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A qxiella Luce cotal si diventa, 
Che volgersi da lei per altro aspetto 
impossibil che mai si consenta. 




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1. Faith. 

Rev. H. S. HOLLAND, M.A., Canon of St. Paul's, some- 
time Senior Student of Christ Church. 

2. The Christian Doctrine of God. 

Eev. AUBREY MOORE, M.A., Hon. Canon of Christ Church, 
Tutor of Magdalen and Keble Colleges. 

3. The Problem of Pain : its bearing on faith in God. 

Rev. J. R. ILLINGWORTH, M.A., Rector of Longworth, 
sometime Fellow of Jesus and Tutor of Kehle 

4. The Preparation in History for Christ. 

Rev. E. S. TALBOT, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, sometime 
"Warden of Keble College. 

5. The Incarnation in relation to Development. 


6. The Incarnation as the Basis of Dogma. 

Rev. R. C. MOBERLT, M.A., Vicar of Great Budworth, 
sometime Senior Student of Christ Church. 

7. The Atonement. 

Rev. and Hon. ARTHUR LITTELTON, M.A., Master of 
Selwyn College, Cambridge, sometime Tutor of 
Keble College. 

vi Essays and Contributors, 

8. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 

Rev. C. GOKE, M.A., Principal of Pusey House, Fellow 
of Trinity College. 

9. The Church. 

Rev. W. LOCK, M.A., Sub- Warden of Keble and Fellow 
of Magdalen Colleges. 

10. Sacraments. 

Rev. F. PAGET, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, and Regius 
Professor of Pastoral Theology. 

11. Christianity and Politics. 

Rev. W. J. H. CAMPION, M.A., Tutor of Keble College. 

12. Christian Ethics. 

Rev. R. L. OTTLEY, M.A., Vice-Principal of Cuddesdon, 
late Senior Student of Christ Church. 


1. THIS volume is primarily due to a set of circumstances 
which exists no longer. The writers found themselves at 
Oxford together between the years 1875-1885, engaged in the 
common work of University education; and compelled for 
their own sake, no less than that of others, to attempt to put 
the Catholic faith into its right relation to modern intellectual 
and moral problems. Such common necessity and effort led 
to not infrequent meetings, in which a common body of 
thought and sentiment, and a common method of commending 
the faith to the acceptance of others, tended to form itself. 
We, who once enjoyed this happy companionship, are now 
for the most part separated. But at least some result of our 
temporary association remains, which it is hoped may justify 
and explain the present volume. 

2. For this collection of essays represents an attempt on 
behalf of the Christian Creed in the way of explanation. 
We are sure that Jesus Christ is still and will continue to be 
the ' Light of the world.' We are sure that if men can rid 
themselves of prejudices and mistakes (for which, it must be 
said, the Church is often as responsible as they), and will 
look afresh at what the Christian faith really means, they 
will find that it is as adequate as ever to interpret life and 
knowledge in its several departments, and to impart not 
less intellectual than moral freedom. But we are conscious 
also that if the true meaning of the faith is to be made 
sufficiently conspicuous it needs disencumbering, reinter- 
preting, explaining. We can but quote in this sense a 

viii Preface. 

distinguished French writer who has often acted as an 
inspiration to many of us. Pere Gratry felt painfully that 
the dogmas of the Church were but as an ' unknown tongue ' 
to many of the best of his compatriots. ' It is not enough,' he 
said, ' to utter the mysteries of the Spirit, the great mysteries 
of Christianity, in formulas, true before God, but not under- 
stood of the people. The apostle and the prophet are precisely 
those who have the gift of interpreting these obscure and 
profound formulas for each man and each age. To translate 
into the common tongue the mysterious and sacred language 
.... to speak the word of God afresh in each age, in ac- 
cordance with both the novelty of the age and the eternal 
antiquity of the truth, this is what S. Paul means by inter- 
preting the unknown tongue. But to do this, the first con- 
dition is that a man should appreciate the times he lives in. 
" Hoc autem tempus quare non probatis l ? " 

3. We have written then in this volume not as ' guessers 
at truth,' but as servants of the Catholic Creed and Church, 
aiming only at interpreting the faith we have received. On 
the other hand, we have written with the conviction that the 
epoch in which we live is one of profound transformation, 
intellectual and social, abounding in new needs, new points of 
view, new questions ; and certain therefore to involve great 
changes in the outlying departments of theology, where it 
is linked on to other sciences, and to necessitate some general 
restatement of its claim and meaning. 

This is to say that theology must take a new development. 
We grudge the name development, on the one hand, to any- 
thing which fails to preserve the type of the Christian Creed 
and the Christian Church ; for development is not innovation, 
it is not heresy : on the other hand, we cannot recognise as 
the true ' development of Christian doctrine,' a movement 
which means merely an intensification of a current tendency 

1 Gratry, Henri Perreyve, Paris 1880, p. 162. 

Preface. ix 

from within, a narrowing and hardening of theology by simply 
giving it greater definiteness or multiplying its dogmas. 

The real development of theology is rather the process in 
which the Church, standing firm in her old truths, enters into 
the apprehension of the new social and intellectual movements 
of each age: and because 'the truth makes her free' is able 
to assimilate all new material, to welcome and give its place 
to all new knowledge, to throw herself into the sanctification 
of each new social order, bringing forth out of her treasures 
things new and old, and shewing again and again her power 
of witnessing under changed conditions to the catholic capacity 
of her faith and life. 

4. To such a development these studies attempt to be a 
contribution. They will be seen to cover, more or less, the 
area of the Christian faith in its natural order and sequence 
of parts, but the intention is not to offer complete theological 
treatises, or controversial defences of religious truths: it is 
rather to present positively the central ideas and principles of 
religion, in the light of contemporary thought and current 
problems. The only one of the essays in fact which has any 
degree of formal completeness, is that on Christian Ethics, 
a subject on which the absence of systematic books of a 
genuine English growth seems to justify a more detailed 

5. The main omissions of which we are conscious are due to 
want of space. For instance, we should have been very glad 
to attempt a separate treatment of the subject of sin ; though 
we hope the line that would be taken about it has been 
sufficiently indicated by more than one writer 1 . Again, we 
have left aside any detailed discussion of historical evidences ; 
but it will be seen that our attempt has been so to present the 
principles of the Christian faith as to suggest the point of 
view from which evidences are intelligible, and from which 

1 See pp. 208-211, 292-3, 318-20, 475-6. 

x Preface. 

they will, it is firmly believed, be found satisfactory. Once 
more, if we have not found room for a treatment of 
miracles, at least we hope that the Church's conception of 
God, as He manifests Himself in nature and in grace, which 
we have endeavoured to express, will at once acquit us of any 
belief in capricious ' violations of law ; ' and will also suggest 
a view of the world as disordered by sin and crying out for 
redemption, which will make it intelligible that ' miracles ' 
should appear, not as violating law, but as a necessary 
element in its restoration as well as its completer exhibition ; 
contrary, not to the fundamental order of the Divine work- 
ing, but only to a superficial or mechanical view of it, or 
to a view which sin has distorted or preoccupation with 
physical science has unduly narrowed. 

6. It only remains to explain that we have written not 
as mere individuals, but as ministers, under common conditions, 
of a common faith. This unity of conviction has enabled us 
freely to offer and accept mutual criticism and suggestion ; so 
that without each of us professing such responsibility for work 
other than his own, as would have involved undue interference 
with individual method, we do desire this volume to be 
the expression of a common mind and a common hope. 

C. G. 


Michaelmas, 1889. 


The author of the Essay The Holy Spirit and Inspiration 
has endeavoured to obviate further misunderstanding of his 
meaning on one important point by rewriting some sentences 
on pp. 359-60, in accordance with the Corrigenda inserted in 
the Fourth Edition. 



THERE are two things which may fairly be regretted in 
regard to the criticisms often the very kind and encourag- 
ing criticisms which this book has received. There is, 
first, the disproportionate attention which has been given 
to some twenty pages on the subject of the inspiration of 
Holy Scripture, an attention so disproportionate as to defeat 
the object which the writers had in view in assigning to 
that subject its place in the general treatment of the work 
of the Holy Spirit the object, namely, of giving it its proper 
context in the whole body of Christian truth : and there is, 
secondly, the fact that we have not generally succeeded in 
gaining the attention of our critics to the point of view from 
which these ' studies ' were written, and the purpose they were 
intended to serve. 

Our purpose was 'to succour a distressed faith' by en- 
deavouring to bring the Christian Creed into its right relation 
to the modern growth of knowledge, scientific, historical, cri- 
tical; and to the modern problems of politics and ethics 1 . We 
were writing as for Christians, but as for Christians perplexed 
by new knowledge which they are required to assimilate and 
new problems with which they are required to deal. What is 
needed to help men in such perplexity is not compromise, for 

1 By the phrase ' to attempt to put ance and the faith only secondary, 

the Catholic faith into its right re- What was intended was that, as 

lation to modern intellectual and holding the Faith, we needed, as the 

moral problems ' (Preface to First Church has often needed, to bring that 

Edition) it was not by any means with which we are ourselves iden- 

intended to suggest that the modern tified, into relation to the claims, 

problems or the modern sciences intellectual and practical, made upon 

were the things of the first import- us from outside. 

xii Preface to 

compromise generally means tampering with principle, but 
readjustment, or fresh correlation, of the things of faith 
and the things of knowledge. In detail this will, no doubt, 
involve concessions, and that on both sides, because both sides 
have been liable to make mistakes l ; but in the main what is 
to be looked for is a reconciliation which shall at once set the 
scientific and critical movement, so far as it is simply scien- 
tific and critical, free from the peril of irreligion, and the 
religious movement free from the imputation of hostility to 
new knowledge as free as any movement can be, which is 
intensely concerned to nourish and develop what is per- 
manent and unchanging in human life. Such a reconciliation 
has more than once been effected in the past, though never 
without a preliminary period of antagonism 2 : our confidence 
that it will be effected anew in the future lies partly in the 
fact that we see it already taking place in some minds which 
seem to us to represent the best life and thought of our time 
both scientific and religious. One such at least 3 we knew 
and have lost, though only from present intercourse, in 
Aubrey Moore. Nobody could know him and think of him 
as ' compromising ' either his faith or his science. He lived 
primarily and with deepest interest in his religious life and 
theological study, but he lived also with intense reality in 
the life of science. And the debt we owe to him, over and 
above the debt under which his personal character lays us for 
ever, is that of having let us see how the two lives of faith 
and of science can melt into one. He felt indeed and wrestled 
with the difficulties of adjustment. He had not, as it seemed to 

1 Cf. Dr. Pusey, University Sermons, of Christianity to the Copernican 
1864-1879. ' Unscience, not science, astronomy: Salmon, Infallibility of 
contrary to faith,' pp. 18 ff. the Church, p. 230. 

2 Cf. the history of the relations of :i See the tribute to his memory by 
the Church to Aristotelian philosophy: Mr. G. J. Romanes : G-uardian, Jan. 29, 
Milman, Latin Christianity, ed. 4, vol. 1890. 

ix. pp. no S. ; and later the relations 

the Tenth Edition. xiii 

us, nearly finished his work in this respect. But he had done 
enough for our encouragement : enough to help us to believe 
that the best minds of the future are to be neither religious 
minds defying scientific advance, nor scientific minds denying 
religion, but minds in which religion interprets and is inter- 
preted by science, in which faith and enquiry subsist together 
and reinforce one another. The reason why he should have 
been so soon taken from us and from the Church on earth 
taken when ' our need was the sorest ' lies in the im- 
penetrable mysteries of God. ' Si dolemus ablatum, non 
tamen obliviscimur quod datus fuit, et gratias agimus quod 
habere ilium meruimus . . . Pusillus corde eram et confortabat 
me ; piger et negligens, et excitabat me V 


It seems to us that a due regard to the point of view from 
which these studies were written would have obviated some 
of the criticisms upon them. For instance, it would have 
explained why we forbore to enter upon the questions which 
may be raised as to the seat and methods of Church autho- 
rity. It was because these questions do not arise practically 
till the work has been done to which we were attempting to 
minister. When a man is once reassured that his faith in 
Christ is capable of rational justification, he begins naturally 
to enquire what exactly the Christian religion involves in 
this or that detail, and how its manifestly authoritative 
character, as a Divine Revelation, is to find expression : but 
these enquiries hardly begin till the preliminary reassurance 
has been gained. 

The moral authority of Christianity, of Christian lives and 
characters, does indeed exercise a determining influence on the 

1 From S. Bernard's most touching sermon (in Cant. 26) on the death of his 
brother Gerard. 

xiv Preface to 

promotion and recovery of faith ; but men do not often either 
win a hold on the creed for the first time, or recover it where it 
has been lost or impaired, because the theological authority of 
the Church enables them to take it on trust. The very 
grounds of that authority are for the moment too much in 
question to admit of the proper amount of deference being 
oiven to it. Thus it seemed to us better in this volume to be 


content with general statements as to the principle of Church 
authority 1 , leaving out its detailed discussion as unsuitable to 
our present purpose. 

Of course, however, we were conscious all the time that we 
were ourselves amenable to the bar of authority and were 
bound to feel sure that nothing we were saying was trans- 
gressing the laws which the Catholic Church has laid down. 
We should indeed be unanimous in disclaiming any desire to 
have ' license to say what we please ' in our position as Church 
teachers. All meaning would be taken out of the effort and 
hope this book represents if we could not believe that we were 
speaking as the Church would have us speak. As the essay on 
Inspiration has been chiefly called in question on the ground of 
authority, the author of it must be allowed to plead that he did 
assure himself he was saying nothing which the Church in her 
past action had not left him free to say, while for the future 
he does earnestly desire in due course, and after due enquiry, 
an action of Church authority on the relation of modern 
critical methods to the doctrine of Inspiration ; and further 
he believes that the Anglican churches, holding as they do so 
conspicuous a place in traditional reverence for the Scriptures, 
while they are so free on the other hand from the obscu- 
rantist fear of historical enquiry, are more likely than any 
other part of the Church to arrive at determinations on the 
subject such as will be of material service to the whole of 

1 See Essay VI. pp. 226-227, 250 ff. ; Essay VIII. pp. 324-327 ; and Essay IX. 
PP- 384-39 - 

the Tenth Edition. xv 

Christendom. But for the present there can be no doubb the 
subject is not ripe for any official or formal determinations. 


It seems to us also that some of the criticisms on the 
treatment of Inspiration in Essay VIII, which shall be 
presently dealt with, have been due to the same forgetful- 
ness of the writer's aim, and of the general aim of the whole 
book. Our traditional belief in the Bible is at the present 
time confronted with a body of critical literature which 
claims to overthrow a great many of the accepted opinions 
about the Old Testament Scriptures. The criticism is at least 
grave and important enough to claim attention, to necessitate 
that we should come to a more or less clear understanding 
of the relation in which our faith stands towards it. The 
writer of the essay did not write as a biblical critic but as a 
theological student and teacher, bound to give a candid con- 
sideration to a criticism which bears directly upon the sacred 
books of our religion. His object was not to discuss and 
determine questions of biblical criticism, but to explain, as 
it appears to him, the relation which theology is to take up 
towards them. And he wrote 'in the mind of those who 
have felt the trouble in the air : ' he wrote to succour a faith 
distressed by the problems criticism is raising. That faith is 
very widely distressed by them, and that not merely in 
academic circles, does not admit of question. Nor did it 
seem to him to admit of question that the best way to deal 
with this distress was not to attempt to solve problems, 
which, because of the immense area over which discussion 
ranges, do not admit of ready solutions ; but to attempt 
to state the main conclusions criticism is claiming to have 
arrived at, as the critics themselves would have us state them ; 
to show that our Christian faith is not vitally affected by 

xvi Preface to 

them ; and so to divert an anxious mind from problems 
which it cannot solve, at least at present, and fix it on the 
central truths of our religion, helping it to feel how, if it be 
once grounded on these central truths, the issue of the critical 
discussion can be awaited, with keen interest indeed, but with- 
out alarm. But this assurance of mind in face of the critical 
controversy is only possible if we see that the critical positions 
are in fact compatible with the real inspiration of Holy 
Scripture. Now the best way to give reassurance on this 
point seemed to be for the writer to make it plain that he 
himself felt the great force and appeal of the critical case, 
and that his conviction that the real Inspiration of the Old 
Testament was unaffected by it, did not depend upon its being 
underrated. Had the main purpose of the writer been to help 
to determine critical positions, he would have been bound 
to write both at greater length and also with more exact- 
ness and discrimination. But on the other hand, the purpose 
of reassurance would have had less chance of being success- 
fully accomplished as in some cases we have reason to 
believe with thankfulness that it has been accomplished or 
assisted if the writer had been more reluctant to accept, at 
least hypothetically, what are claimed as critical results. We 
all know by experience that freedom and happiness in our 
attitude as Christians towards problems not easily solved, or 
even easily brought to crucial tests, are most readily secured 
if we can feel that our faith is, at the last resort, inde- 
pendent of the exact solution arrived at. Thus our object 
was to give to anxious enquirers, of whom there are surely 
an immense number most deserving of any help which can be 
given them, a freedom in regard to Old Testament problems 
as wide as the Catholic faith seemed to warrant. 

the Tenth Edition. xvii 


We cannot but accept the very general suggestion of our 
critics that we ought to have attempted a separate treatment 
of the problem of sin. Some such treatment is now offered 
in the second appendix, and offered in the form of a re- 
publication of what has previously seen the light, so that it 
may be plain that the absence of it from earlier editions 
was not due to lack of conviction or unwillingness to deal 
with the subject. The appendix is not in fact more than a 
drawing out of what is involved in some passages of the essays 
taken together l . Thus the fifth essay takes up a very clear 
position as to the practical aspect which sin bears in human 
life. The fact is emphasized that sin, as our moral con- 
sciousness knows it and Christianity has successfully dealt 
with it, is a phenomenon unique in the world : it is what 
nothing else is, violation of law. Now this is the essence of 
the Christian doctrine of sin, as S. John states it : ' Sin is 
lawlessness 2 .' Sin and lawlessness are coincident terms. 
This view of sin is primarily practical; it may be repre- 
sented in fact as a postulate required for successfully dealing 
with sin, a postulate justified and verified by its results. 
But because it is thus verified and justified, it passes like any 
other hypothesis which explains facts, in proportion to the 
range and thoroughness of the experience which tests it, out 
of the region of mere working hypotheses into that of ac- 
cepted truths. Thus it is to the Christian consciousness an 
accepted truth, that sin, all down the long history of hu- 
manity, has been a violation of the divine order, a refusal of 
obedience, a corruption of man's true nature. Sin, as such, 
has always been a source of confusion, not of progress. We 

1 See Preface, p. ix. note l. 

2 Cf. Dr. Westcott's note on I S. John iii. 4, 77 dfiapria karlv rj dvo^ia. 


xviii Preface to 

can indeed recognise how the movement and development in 
humanity has frequently l been in fact conditioned by sin ; 
but we should still contend that it has never been the sin in 
itself which has been the spring of force and progress, but 
the faculties of will and intellect which sin was using. 
Always the will and intellect would have worked better 
and more fruitfully in the result if they had been free 
from the taint of selfishness and rebellion against God. 
Always sin, as such, has been a lowering and not a raising 
of human life : a fall and not a rise. Thus sin at the begin- 
ning of human life must have been not merely the awaken- 
ing of moral consciousness, but the obscuring and tainting 
of it by lawlessness and disobedience. Sin, as all down its 
history, so in its origin, is a fall ; a fall, moreover, entailing 
consequences on those who come after, in virtue of the in- 
violable solidarity of the human race. To this view of sin 
original and actual, Christianity appears to be bound ; and it 
is a view that, as we have now endeavoured to show 2 , brings 
us into no conflict with scientific discovery. For science 
never attempts to prove that man might not have developed 
otherwise than as in fact he has, or that the actual development 
has been the best possible : nor has Christianity ever in its best 
representatives, certainly not in its patristic representatives, 
been identified with a denial that human history as a whole 
has been a development upwards from below 3 . The Old 
Testament is in fact among ancient literatures, the literature 
of development, of progress 4 . 

1 Cf. F. Lenormant, Les Origims de * Cf. F. Lenormant, Les Origines, 
Vhistoire. Paris, 1880, t. i, p. 191. t. I, pp. 63-66. It is a pleasure to refer 
' C'est dans la race de Qain que la to this work by a distinguished 
Bible place 1'invention des arts et des Catholic and man of learning. The 
metiers. " Les fils du siecle sont plus Preface is an admirable discussion of 
habiles que les enfants de lumiere."' the relation of scientific enquiry to 

2 Cf. p. 534. belief in Inspiration. 

3 Cf. p. 535. note i. 

the Tenth Edition. xix 


The criticisms on our treatment of Inspiration have been so 
abundant, and have gone into such detail, that it will be 
obvious that any attempt to reply to them must be a more 
individual effort than the attempt to reply to the criticisms 
on the general aim and spirit of the book. For while the 
writers in this volume are at one as to the general attitude 
which they would wish the Church to assume towards the 
critical treatment of the Old Testament, as they are at one in 
the general line of treatment adopted throughout this volume, 
they cannot pretend to be at one on all the details of a 
complicated subject. The writer of the particular essay alone 
can be responsible for these : and with reference to them he 
must be understood to speak simply in his own person. 

i . The passage about Inspiration was written under the con- 
viction that recent criticism of the Old Testament represents 
a real advance in analytical method as applied to literature, 
and thus a most serious movement of thought. As such it has 
been estimated by the Bishop of Oxford in his recent Charge. 
He says, ' The Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament are now 
going through a process of analytical criticism which has, as 
we believe, had no parallel, for acuteness of investigation, 
carefulness of method, and completeness of apparatus, since the 
days in which they began to be regarded as a code of in- 
spired literature, and certainly not since the days of our 
blessed Lord's life on earth ; at which period we understand 
that to all intents and purposes the books which we receive, 
as the Canonical Old Testament Scriptures, had taken their 
existing form 1 .' But like the scientific movement of our time, 
the critical movement has been accompanied by all the arbitra- 
riness and tendency to push things to extremes which appears 

1 Oxford Diocesan Gazette, July, 1890 (Parker, Oxford), p. 91. 

b 2 

xx Preface to 

to be an almost inseparable attendant upon living and vigorous 
movements, ecclesiastical and secular. Further than this, its 
representatives have been and here again the conditions of 
the scientific movement are reproduced very frequently men 
personally opposed to the Christian faith, and even thoroughly 
rationalistic in temper and tone. But it does not follow in 
the case of criticism, any more than in the case of science, 
that we are not to learn a great deal from a movement charac- 
terized even predominantly by ' extremeness ' and unbelief. 
And in fact, in the past fifty years there appears to have been 
a solid critical advance, underneath a great deal of contro- 
versial arbitrariness and irreligious insolence. Now I thought 
that I should best serve the purpose with which I was writing, 
if I went as far as I could in ungrudging recognition of the 
claims of criticism, and involved myself as little as possible 
in doubtful discussions ; but I did also intend to express, and 
beli eved myself to have expressed with sufficient clearness 1 , 
my own conviction that it was with the more conservative 
among the recent critics, and not with the more extreme, that 
the victory would lie. Thus when I said, in a sentence which 
has been specially criticized (partly because its wording was 
somewhat ambiguous), that criticism is reaching 'results as 
sure as scientific enquiry,' what I intended so to characterize 
was not the extreme conclusions of Wellhausen, but substan- 
tially the conclusions shared in common by Wellhausen and 
Dillmann, by critics theologically more conservative, like 
Konig and Kiehm, by Delitzsch in his last position, by the 
French Catholic orientalist, F. Lenormant, as well as by an 
increasing body of English scholars 2 . Nor is there a single 

1 The summary statements on pp. 2 See Ed. Kiehm, Einleitung in das 

351-2 as to the historical character A. T. (Halle, 1889), 15-18, 24, 27. 

of the Old Testament represent, I F.^.K6mg,0/enbarung8beffiiffd8A.T. 

believe, a ' conservative' attitude, an (Leipzig, 1882), t. n, pp. 321 if. Cf. 

attitude towards the history very also Hctuptprobleme der Altisr.-Reliyions- 

unlike that, for instance, of Well- gesch. (Leipzig, 1884). F. Delitzsch, 

hausen. Genesis, Clark's trans. (Edinb., i 

the Tenth Edition. xxi 

line of what I wrote which would be affected, so far as I see, 
even if Professor Margoliouth were satisfactorily to make out 
his case for throwing back the period of the 'Middle Hebrew 1 .' 
As to the grounds on which we have been asked to date the bulk 


of the Psalms below the Captivity, and even in the Maccabean 
period, they may appear indeed quite unconvincing ; but it 
would have been utterly beside my purpose, as it would also 
have been out of my power, to give them adequate discussion 2 , 
nor would it seem as if even so improbably late a date as 
that suggested would really affect their Messianic or spiritual 
character. Let us affirm then without any hesitation that 
there is a good deal of arbitrariness and extremeness in 
current criticism as applied to the Old Testament. But surely 
we should be the victims of a dangerous delusion if we were to 
imagine that because there is a good deal that is unsubstantial 
in recent criticism, therefore there is no substantial force in 
what really represents the successive labours of many 
generations of students. I do not think that we can conceal 


i. 19-38. P. Lenormant, Les Origines, English or German. For a review 

Preface. I venture to think that by a very competent critic, see Prof, 

those who want to study the modern Noldeke in the Lit. Centralblatt, July 

criticism of the Old Testament would 12, 1890. 

be less likely to be prejudiced against 2 I may say that the motive for 

it if they were to begin their study what is said about Ps. ex on p. 359 

with the assistance of Riehm and was simply the conviction that our 

Konig, rather than of more rational- Lord in the passage there in question 

istic scholars. I ought to add that cannot fairly be taken as giving in- 

while the scholars mentioned above struction on a critical question of 

agree substantially as to the analysis authorship, not the difficulty of as- 

of the Pentateuch, they differ as to signing the particular Psalm to the 

the position assigned to the Priestly age of David. The solution which I 

Code, Avhich Dillmann and Riehm propose, p. 3 5 9, as to our Lord's words 

hold to be prior to Deuteronomy, is however only one of several which 

Wellhausen, Kb'nig and Delitzsch are possible even for those who agree 

subsequent to it. with me in the conviction expressed 

1 Essay on the place of Ecctesiasticus in above. See, for instance, Edersheim, 

Semitic Literature. Oxford : Clarendon Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 

Press, 1890, pp. 20, 21. lalludetothis (London, 1884), ii. p. 406, and Bp. 

essay because it has excited consider- Thirl wall as quoted in Dean Perowne's 

able interest, but it has not received Commentary on the Psalms (London 

favourable notice from critics either 1871), ii. pp. 302 ff. 

xxii Preface to 

from ourselves that if we are to defend a purely conserva- 
tive attitude in regard to Old Testament literature, we 
shall require quite different canons of evidence from those 
which we are able so successfully to use in vindicating the 
historical character of the New Testament : or again, in vindi- 
cating the claims of the apostolic ministry and the sacramental 
system to be part of the original fabric of the Christian 
Church. In other words, the critical principles of historical 
enquiry which do so amply justify us in retaining substan- 
tially the traditional position in regard as well to the New 
Testament documents as to our Church principles, do not carry 
us to the same point in the field of the Old Testament. No 
doubt there the vastness of the field is a permanent obstacle to 
uniformly certain results. A great deal must remain, and 
probably for ever, more or less an open question. But this 
necessary uncertainty, if it imposes on critics an obligation of 
caution, imposes also on us churchmen an obligation of reserve 
in dogmatic requirement. We do not wish to run the risk of 
making a claim on men's minds for the acceptance of positions 
for which we have only this to urge, that they cannot be abso- 
lutely disproved. 

2. The changed view of the development of Old Testament 
literature, such as can be truly said to be proposed for our 
acceptance by modern critics with a great deal of unanimity, if 
it be granted for the moment that it is compatible with the real 
inspiration of the books, involves no important change in our 
spiritual use of the Old Testament ; in the use of it for the 
purposes of ' faith and morals.' This latter use of Scripture 
depends simply on our rightly interpreting the meaning of the 
books as they exist. 

There is a great principle enunciated by S. Augustine in 
regard to the Old Testament which requires to be kept 
constantly in view. It is that as the Old Testament is 
manifested in the New, so the New Testament is latent in 

the Tenth Edition. xxiii 

the Old 1 . In order to recognize this there is no discussion 
necessary of the method by which our 'Old Testament' 
received its present shape. The evidence of it lies in the Old 
Testament considered as a finished product. As such, we 
cannot study that ' divine library ' without being struck both 
by its unity, so far greater than belongs to any other 
literature 2 , and by the fact that like no other literature it 
looks forward to an end not yet attained, a divine event in 
which is to be its justification and its interpretation. The 
Old Testament demands the New to bring out its true mean- 
ing : the New appeals back to the Old to bear witness to the 
continuity of the divine purpose of which it is the outcome. It 
is from this point of view that we understand the appeal which, 
in the New Testament, is so constantly made to the older 
Scriptures. Whether they are appealed to, as in the Sermon 
on the Mount, as containing the record of a moral education, 
divine though imperfect, which the Christ was to complete 3 ; 
or as by St. Paul, as the record of a preparatory and temporary 
discipline by means of external enactments of God, calculated 
to awaken the dull conscience of men to the reality and 
holiness of the divine will, and so to make men conscious of 
sin against God, and ready to welcome the dispensation of 
pardon and grace 4 ; or, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews', as a 
system of ritual and ceremonial observances, in which were 

1 S.Augustine, Qucest. 73 in Exod. : ex']: it is < from above ' [from the top, 
' Quamquam et in vetere [Testamento] A.V.] because it is inspired; it is 
novum lateat, et in novo vetus pateat.' ' woven throughout,' because in its 
Quoted by Dr. Liddon, The worth of the whole force it is from above.' 

Old Testament, p. 28. 3 S. Matt. v. 17-48, cf. xix. 8: 

2 Cf. Didymus in Psalm, xxi. 19, 'Moses, because of the hardness of 
where he interprets Christ's ' seamless your hearts,' etc. 

robe,' of the Holy Scriptures which 4 After S. Paul, S. Augustine is 

they ' part ' who accept one and reject the great exponent of this principle 

another. ' This robe of Jesus is also in early days ; see esp. de spiritu et. 

indivisible, for it is seamless. Its littera, xix. (34) : Lex ergo data est ut 

unity is not enforced but natural gratia quaereretur : gratia data est ut 

rjv tvuaiv d\\a avfjupvij lex impleretur. 

xxiv Preface to 

shadowed forth by the inspiring Spirit * the deep truths of the 
still-needed sacrifice, and the access to God not yet won for 
man ; or finally, as by almost all the New Testament writers, 
as a prophetic dispensation in which the Messianic hope 
found gradual expression in fuller and exacter lineaments, and 
produced an anticipation which Christ only could satisfy 2 : 
from any of these points of view, or from all taken together, 
we are concerned only with the Old Testament as it finally 
appears, not with the method by which it came into being. 
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that when we seek re- 
assurance in regard to the inspiration of those books of the 
Old Testament, to which our Lord and His Church refer us, 
we find it primarily in the substance of the books as they are 
given to us, not in any considerations of the manner in which 
they came into existence 3 . 

And if this is so, it needs to be borne in mind that the re- 
sponsibility for bringing it home to the consciences of men, 
the responsibility for thus preventing that breach in religious 
continuity which the change in critical and literary concep- 
tions of the Old Testament might otherwise occasion, lies in 
a preeminent degree upon those of us who are most impressed 
with the valid elements of the recent criticism. It belongs to 


us to see to it that, so far as lies with us, the Bible shall not 
be less prized by the generations that are coming, as the divine, 
the inspired volume, than it has been by the generations 

1 See esp. Heb. ix. 8, ' The Holy wards the more we bestow our labour 
Spirit this signifying ; ' and cf. Dr. in reading or hearing the mysteries 
Westcott on this Epistle, pp. 233 if. thereof, the more we find that the 

2 I would venture to recommend thing itself doth answer our received 
Riehm's Messianic Prophecy (Clark's opinion concerning it.' Later again, 
trans.), as a summary account of as against ' infidels or atheists,' we 
prophecy both reverent and critical. must l maintain the authority of the 

3 Cf. Hooker's account of our books of God ... by such kind of 
grounds for believing that < Scripture proofs . . . that no man living shall 
... is divine and sacred.' ' By ex- be able to deny it, without denying 
perience,' he says, ' we all know, that some apparent principle such as all 
the first outward motive leading men men acknowledge to be true.' E. P. 
so to esteem of the Scripture is the III. viii. 14. 

authority of God's Church. . . . After- 

the Tenth Edition, xxv 

that are gone. It belongs to us to attend to the double 
admonition of the De Imitotione : ' Every scripture must be 
read in the same spirit in which it was written : ' and ' Do 
not enquire who said this, but pay heed to what is said.' 

3. There is one appeal which the New Testament makes to 
the Old which was not alluded to above, as it does not in fact 
fall naturally under S. Augustine's principle of the New 
Testament lying hid in the Old namely the appeal to it as 
to a historical record of God's actual dealings with His people : 
a record of things which actually ' happened unto them for en- 
samples, and are written for our admonition.' But this appeal 
again would not be invalidated unless it were shown not 
merely that there is an ideal element mixed with the history 
in the Old Testament record, but that the element which is 
not mere narrative of events as they happened, the element of 
idealism, reaches to the point of obscuring the real significance 
of the facts and distorting their divine meaning. Whereas the 
truth is that the ideal element in the narrative comes from 
the real divine meaning in the facts being brought into em- 
phatic prominence rather than overlooked; and we may 
depend upon it that no results of criticism have tended to 
weaken our belief that the chroniclers of Israel's history, 
whether prophetic or priestly, were inspired to see its true 
meaning and tendency, and from their different points of view 
to bring it out in its completeness. And it is important to 
remember in this connection that the Jewish idea of ' history ' 
was never our modern critical idea of a mere record. They 
ranked their history from Joshua to the books of Kings under 
the head of 'prophecy,' and intimate to us by this very 
classification that they see in the historian one who not only 
records but interprets facts l . 

1 The Chronicles and the later his- Moralists. 

torical books, as is well known, were The truth of this paragraph de- 
included in the third class of Hagio- pends upon (i) the character, (2) 
grapha' with the Psalmists and the extent of the idealism of Old 

xxvi Preface to 

4. The changed view of the Old Testament books which 
modern criticism asks of us, concerns, then, not so much their 
contents, as the circumstances of their composition and the 
method by which they reached their present form. When we 
pass to this latter class of considerations we are prepared for 
any information which criticism or tradition can give us, while 
at the same time our indestructible conviction, fortified by the 
strongest internal testimony of the books, that here is the 
Holy Spirit's work, gives us an antecedent expectation that 
the mode of composition in the case of each book will be such 
as God in His condescension can have sanctioned and used. 
God, I say, in His condescension because undoubtedly the 
whole Old Testament does represent a condescension of God 
to a low stage of human development. Here then we need 
the recognition of a second great principle which S. Augustine 
lays down, viz. that ' as wrong is done to the Old Testament 
if it be denied to come from the just and good God, so 
wrong is done to the New if it be put on a level with the 
Old V 

For all the reality of its inspiration the Old Testament is on 
a lower level than the New. Thus it is now almost univer- 
sally recognised that God in the Olc| Testament is seen 
appealing to the human conscience at a low stage of its develop- 
ment, tolerating what was not according to His original will 
or His ultimate purpose 2 , as in the case of divorce, and even, 

Testament facts. On this something exist and really represent the divine 

more is said later on. Here I am purpose. 

only concerned to distinguish an l De GestisPelag. v. (15), 'Sicut veteri 

idealism which truly interprets facts, Testamento si esse ex Deo bono et 

even if it throws their spiritual mean- summo negetur, ita et novo fit injuria 

ing into high relief, from a merely si veteri aequetur.' S. Augustine 

imaginative treatment which perverts does not perhaps carry out the recog- 

and distorts them. ThusiftheChroni- nition of this principle as fully as 

cler idealizes, it is by emphasizing, some other of the Fathers : for refs. 

beyond the point of actual fact, the see pp. 229$. 

priestly element in the history which 2 S. Matt. xix. 8. 
at the same time did both really 

the Tenth Edition. xxvii 

as in the case of Abraham's sacrifice, appealing to men to do 
things which in a more fully developed state of the con- 
science could not be even conceived of as commanded by God, 
in order that through their very obedience to the appeal they 
might be led higher into the knowledge of what God could, 
and could not, enjoin. How fully this principle in God's 
dealings was recognised and justified by the early Christian 
authorities has been already brought out in this volume 1 . 

Again, the same method of condescending to what was 
not in itself perfect, but was susceptible of a gradual educa- 
tion, appears in the institutions of the Old Testament law of 
worship. Modern enquirers are pressing upon us the fact 
that the ritual law of Israel is closely akin to the common 
ritual customs of Semite races. ' What I may call the 
natural basis of Israel's worship,' says Prof. Robertson Smith, 
' was very closely akin to that of the neighbouring cults V 
The peculiarity of Israel's religion lay in fact not in the 
ritual itself, but in the moral and theological turn given to 
the ritual. According to this view God in the law appears 
as diverting to good uses, by an act of condescension, ritual 
customs which it would have been premature to abolish. 
Such a view of the ritual is somewhat strange to the ears of 
modern Churchmen, but it was undoubtedly the prevalent 
view of the law among the great writers of Christian 
antiquity. References to illustrate this have been given 
in the eighth essay 3 . 

But I may add to the passages there referred to another 
of very striking force. S. Chrysostom is explaining why 
God should have appealed to the astrological notions of the 
wise men and led them by no other leading than that of a 
star. It is because ' in exceeding condescension He calls 

1 See pp. 329 ff. added is from S. Chrysost. m Matt. 

2 Religion of the Semites. Edinburgh, vi. 3. The same idea is discerned by 
1889, p. 4. Bp. Lightfoot in S. Paul ; see on 

3 P- 3 2 9> n t e 2 - The passage here Gal. iv. n. 

xxviii Preface to 

them through what is familiar ... In imitation of this Paul 
too reasons with the Greeks from an altar, and adduces tes- 
timony from the poets, while he harangues the Jews with 
circumcision, and makes from the sacrifices a beginning of 
instruction for those who are living under the law. For since 
to every one familiar things are dear, therefore both God 
Himself and the men who were sent from God, with a view 
to the salvation of the world, manage things on this principle. 
Think it not then unworthy of Him to have called them by 
a star ; for by the same rule thou wilt find fault with all the 
Jewish rites also both the sacrifices and the purifications 
and the new moons, and the ark, and the temple itself. For 
all these things had their origin from Gentile grossness. Yet 
God, on account of the salvation of those in error, endured to 
be worshipped by means of the very things through which those 
outside were worshipping demons, only giving them a slight 
alteration, that little by little he might draw them away 
from their customs and lead them up to the high philosophy.' 
NQW if we recognize that God in the Old Testament can 
condescend for the purposes of His revelation to a low stage of 
conscience, and a low stage of worship, what possible ground 
have we for denying that He can use for purposes of His 
inspiration literary methods also which belong to a rude and 
undeveloped state of intelligence ? If He can ' inspire ' with 
true teaching the native Semite customs of ritual, why can 
He not do the same with their traditions of old time ? How 
can we reasonably deny that the earlier portions of Genesis 
may contain the simple record of primitive prehistoric tra- 
dition of the Semites 1 , moulded and used by the Holy Spirit, as 

1 I use the word ' myth ' for those is used. On Strauss's application 

primitive stories on p. 356. The of the myth theory to the Gospel 

legitimacy of this use may be dis- narratives, I should quite assent to 

puted, see e. g. Riehm, Einleitung, p. the remarks of Dr. Mill, Mythical In- 

542. But I endeavour to explain tcrpretation of the Gospels (Cambridge, 

exactly the sense in which the word 1861), pp. 97, 98. 

the Tenth Edition. xxix 

on all showing the record manifestly has been moulded and 
used, to convey the fundamental principles of all true religion ? 
Or again, granted that, on the 'dramatic' hypothesis, Deu- 
teronomy written not by Moses, but in Moses' name, to in- 
corporate the Mosaic tradition, represents a literary method 
greatly inferior, in sense of exactitude, to the method of per- 
sonal testimony as we have it in S. John 1 , or of careful in- 
vestigation and use of original testimony, as we have it in 
S. Luke 2 ; granted this how can we, in view of the manifest 
facts of God's condescension, find ourselves in a position to 
deny that He can have used such a method as a vehicle of 
His inspiration 3 ? There is, it must be emphasized, no critical 
reason why we should assign the composition of any book of 
the Old Testament to the motive of fraud. No doubt hostile 
critics have sometimes suggested, for example, that the ' dis- 
covery ' of the book of the law in the Temple in the days of 
Josiah was a 'got up' proceeding, the book having really 
been written and hidden at the very time in order to be 
' discovered ' ; but there is no positive evidence at all to sup- 
port such a view, while all the evidence is satisfied by the 
hypothesis that an earlier prophet, some hundred years pre- 
viously 4 , working upon an actual and possibly written tra- 
dition of Moses' last speech, had cast this tradition into the 
dramatic form and promulgated, as from Moses' lips, the law 
which he knew to represent ultimately Moses' authority or 
the authority of God in Moses. That such a method should 
have been adopted surprises us surely no more than that 

1 S. John i. 14, xix. 35, xxi. 24 ; i on S. Jude's Epistle in the Introduc- 
S. John i. 1-3. tion to the New Testament. 

2 S. Luke i. 1-4. 4 Cf. Kiehm, Einleitung, i. p. 246 : 

3 I would call attention in this con- ' Das Gesetzbuch kann nicht erst uiiter 
nection to Dr. Salmon's remarks on Josia geschrieben sein, sondern es 
S. Jude's use, even in the New Tes- muss spiitestens zur Zeit des Hiskia 
tarnent canon, of the traditions con- entstanden sein, und zwar bevor 
tained in the Assumption of Moses, dieser Konig seine Reformation ganz 
and his quotation of the book of durchgefiihrt hatte.' 

Enoch : see at the end of his lecture 

xxx Preface to 

Hosea should have been led to use such extraordinary means, 
as he seems in fact to have been enjoined to use, of revealing 
God's mind of love towards His people. It involves no inten- 
tion to deceive, and the discovery of this ' book of the law,' 
lost in the careless period which intervened, was a genuine 
discovery unattended by any element of fraud. 

Once again, if the book of Chronicles contains not pure 
history but the priestly view of the history, granted that 
this priestly point of view was morally part of the divinely 
intended education of the chosen people, even though its 
intellectual method was as imperfect as ordinarily is the case 
with the treatment of traditions in ' schools ' or religious 
orders, in nations or churches or families, is there any a priori 
reason why God, who used so much that was imperfect, should 
not have inspired the record of this tradition ? Here again 
we must emphasize that all that criticism requires of us is- to 
recognise in the book of Chronicles the record of the history 
as it became coloured in the priestly schools ; there is nothing 
here of a morally unworthy sort from the point of view of 
the contemporary conscience, but only the same features as 
are noticeable in the record of tradition all the world over *. 
Fraudulent dealing, forgery in literature, always involves the 
conscious and deliberate use of methods calculated to impose 
on others, methods other than those sanctioned by the literary 
conscience of the time 2 . 

No doubt a particular writer, like Wellhausen, may make a 
bias hostile to the supernatural apparent in his use of the 

1 A common feature in all tradi- tradition what is authoritative tends 
tions is what Wellhausen describes to be represented as what always has 
as the main characteristic of the been authoritative. 
Chronicler, ' the timeless manner of 2 Thus the Pseudo-Isidorian De- 
looking at things which is natural to cretals are properly called forgeries ; 
him.' He ' figures the old Hebrew and the evidence of this would lie in 
people as in exact conformity with the fact that the author could not 
the pattern of the later Jewish com- have afforded to disclose the method 
munity.' Proleg. to Hist, of Israel and circumstances of their produc- 
(Edinburgh, 1885), PP- 190-193. In tion. 

the Tenth Edition. xxxi 

critical method, and may give in consequence an antitheo- 
logical turn to his reconstruction of history ; just as many a 
scientific writer has done with scientific facts and scientific 
method. In view of this we must ' try the spirits ' and not 
attribute too much force to the point of view of a particular 
individual. But this will not be at all the same thing as 
rejecting the modem method of criticism or repudiating those 
results which are certainly accepted by many critics who are 
as far as possible from rejecting the supernatural 1 . 

5. No serious attempt has, I think, been made to show that 
the view of the development of the Old Testament literature 
which the modern critical schools, with great unanimity, 
demand of us, is contrary to any determination of Church 
authority. By this it is not meant that the theology of the 
Church suggests this view: it is not the function of the 
Church to advance literary knowledge, except indirectly ; 
and thus the Church has not had the power to anticipate 
the critical, any more than it had to anticipate the scientific 
movement. The advance of knowledge comes in all depart- 
ments through the natural processes of intellectual enquiry. It 
is only now, in fact, that the critical problem is before the 
Church ; but now that it is before the Church it does not seem 
that the Church ought to have any more difficulty in wel- 
coming it and assimilating it, than it has had in welcoming 
and assimilating the legitimate claims of science. 

With reference to the bearing of Church authority on the 
present discussion, there are three points which I should wish 
to urge. First, that the undivided Church never took action 

1 Thus Riehm, whose position is ' the Pentateuch makes. Anyone who 

described above on p. xx, has a noble reads it, so as to allow its contents 

section (Einleit. pp. 349 ff.) on the to work upon his spirit, must receive 

Pentateuch considered as the record the impression that a consciousness 

.of a Revelation. The convict ion of the of God, such as is here expressed, 

revelation of God is ascribed in part cannot be derived from flesh and 

to ' the immediate impression which blood.' 


xxxii Preface to 

on the matter, in spite of an extravagant tendency to alle- 
gorism in Origen and those who were influenced by him. 

Secondly, that as a result of this the patristic theology 
leaves a wide opening at least for what we may call the 
modern way of regarding the opening chapters of Genesis. 
Thus a Latin writer, of the fifth or sixth century, who gives 
an interesting summary of the Catholic faith, and is clearly 
nothing else but a recorder of accepted beliefs, after speaking 
of the origin and fall of man and woman, continues thus: 
'These things are known through God's revelation to His 
servant Moses, whom He willed to be aware of the state and 
origin of man, as the books which he produced testify. For all 
the divine authority (i. e. the scriptural revelation) appears to 
exist under such a mode as is either the mode of history 
which narrates only what happened, or the mode of allegory 
in such sense that it cannot represent the course of history, 
or a mode made up of these two so as to remain both his- 
torical and allegorical 1 .' A great deal more in the same 
sense as this might be produced. 

Thirdly, it must be urged that since the division of Chris- 
tendom no part of the Church appears really to have tightened 
the bond of dogmatic obligation. Our own formularies are of 
course markedly free from definition on the subject, and the 
refusal of the Eoman Church to define the scope of inspira- 
tion, beyond the region of faith and morals, has been remark- 
able 2 . 

6. But does the authority of our Lord bind us to repudiate, 
in loyalty to Him, the modern views of the origin of the Old 
Testament books? On this subject I wish to express my 

1 De fide Catholica. The treatise is of Cassiodorus, London, 1886, pp. 80-1. 
ascribed to Boethius : see Boetii, 2 See the account in Manning's 

Opuscida Sacra (Teubner Series), p. 178. Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, 

On the fresh evidence of the author- London, 1877, pp. 156-160, and p. 

ship of those treatises supplied by the 166. Cf. also Newman's words below, 

Anecdoton Holderi, see Hodgkin's Letters p. 350. 

the Tenth Edition. xxxiii 

sincere regret that I should have written so briefly in my essay 
as to lay myself open to be misunderstood to suggest our 
Lord's fallibility as a teacher. I trust that the passage, as it 
has stood since the fourth edition 1 , will be at least recognised 
as plain in its meaning and theologically innocent. I must 
ask leave to defer to another occasion the fuller discussion of 
this important subject in connection with the doctrine of the 
Person of Christ. Meanwhile I would suggest that the longer 
one thinks of it the more apparent it will become that any 
hypothesis as to the origin of any one book of the Old Testa- 
ment, which is consistent with a belief in its inspiration,must be 
consistent also with our Lord having given it His authorisation. 
If His Spirit could inspire it, He, in that Spirit, could give it 
His recognition His recognition, that is to say, in regard to 
its spiritual function and character. Thus as we scan care- 
fully our Lord's use of the Old Testament books, we are 
surely struck with the fact that nothing 2 in His use of them 
depends on questions of authorship or date ; He appeals to 
them in that spiritual aspect which abides through all changes 
of literary theory their testimony to the Christ : ' Search 
the Scriptures . . . they are they which testify of Me/ He 
would thus lead men to ask about each book of the Old 
Testament simply the question, What is the element of 
teaching preparatory to the Incarnation, what is the tes- 
timony to Christ, which it supplies ? I do not see how with 
due regard to the self-limitation which all use of human forms 


of thought and speech must on all showing have involved to 

1 PP- 359~6o. lead the Pharisees to examine their 

2 Nothing except, on the custom- own principles. Unless it be so in- 
ary interpretation, His reference to terpreted it does seem to depend, as 
Psalm ex. This does seem to lay an argument, on personal authorship, 
stress on David's authorship, unless because unless it be by David, it seems 
it be regarded, as it certainly seems very difficult to suppose it written in 
to me fair to regard it, as a question, David's person. It would naturally 
rather than as positive instruction at be a Psalm in which the King is 
all a question simply calculated to addressed. 

xxxiv Preface to 

the Eternal Son, it can be a difficulty in the way of accepting 
the modern hypothesis, that our Lord referred to the inspired 
books under the only name by which His reference would have 
been intelligible to His hearers. Unless He had violated the 
whole principle of the Incarnation, by anticipating the slow 
development of natural knowledge, He must have spoken of 
the Deuteronornist as 'Moses 1 ,' as naturally as He spoke of 
the sun 'rising.' Nor does there seem in fact any greater- 
difficulty in His speaking of one who wrote ' in the spirit and 
power ' of Moses as Moses, than in His speaking of one who, 
according to the prophecy, came ' in the spirit and power of 
Elias ' as himself, Elias. ' If ye will receive it, this is Elias.' 
' Elias is already come V 

Once more : if the Holy Spirit could use the tradition of 
the flood to teach men about divine judgments, then our Lord 
in the same Spirit can refer to the flood, for the same 
purpose. It has however been recently denied that this 
can be so, unless the tradition accurately represents history. 
' I venture to ask,' Professor Huxley writes 3 , ' what sort of 
value as an illustration of God's method of dealing with sin 
has an account of an event that never happened 1 ' I should 
like to meet this question by asking another. Has the story 
of the rich man and Lazarus any value as an illustration of 
God's method of dealing with men 1 ? Undoubtedly it has. 
Now what sort of narrative is this ? Not a narrative of 
events that actually happened, in the sense that there was a 
particular beggar to whom our Lord was referring. The 
narrative is a representative narrative 4 , a narrative of what is 

1 S. John v. 46-47. with a single point. 

2 S. Luke i. 17; S. Matt. xi. 14 ; * The proper name 'Lazarus' is 
xvii. 1 2. presumably used because of its mean- 

3 Nineteenth Century, July, 1890, p. 20. ing. It should be noticed that the 
The bulk of his argument is directed story is not a parable proper like that 
against a position different from of the Sower or the Prodigal Son. 
mine. Here I am only concerned 

the Tenth Edition. xxxv 

constantly occurring under the form of a particular typical 
incident. Now the narrative of the flood belongs to a quite 
different class of literature, inasmuch as it is not due to any 
deliberate action of imagination ; but it resembles our Lord's 
story at least in being representative. It is no doubt based 
on fact. The traditions of the flood in all races must run 
back to a real occurrence. But the actual occurrence cannot 
be exactly estimated. What we have in Genesis is a tradi- 
tion used as a vehicle for spiritual teaching. As the story 
is told it becomes, like that of Dives and Lazarus, a typical 
narrative of what is again and again happening. Again and 
again, as in the destruction of Jerusalem, or in the French 
Revolution, God's judgments come on men for their sin : 
again and again teachers of righteousness are sent to warn 
of coming judgment and are ridiculed by a world which 
goes on buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, 
till the flood of God's judgment breaks out and overwhelms 
them. Again and again, through these great judgments there 
emerges a remnant, a faithful stock, to be the fountain head 
of a new and fresh development. The narrative of the flood 
is a representative narrative, and our Lord, who used the 
story of Dives and Lazarus, can use this too J . 


Professor Huxley's article alluded to just now is- a somewhat 
melancholy example of a mode of reasoning which one had 
hoped had vanished from ' educated circles ' for ever that 
namely which regards Christianity as a ' religion of a book ' 

1 It may be remarked that to regard there is every reason why ' the Gospel 

' the flood ' as a representative or should have been preached to those 

typical expression of a whole class of who died ' under God's physical 

divine judgments, helps us in inter- judgments of old times, supposing 

preting S. Peter's use of it in i Peter these, as we must suppose them, not to 

iii. 19-20. There is no reason for an represent God's final moral judgment 

exceptional treatment of those who on individuals : see I Peter iv. 6. 
perished in one particular flood, but 

C 2 

xxxvi Preface to 

in such sense that it is supposed to propose for men's accept- 
ance a volume to be received in all its parts as on the same 
level, and in the same sense, Divine. On the contrary, 
Christianity is a religion of a Person. It propounds for our 
acceptance Jesus Christ, as the revealer of the Father. The 
test question of the Church to her catechumens has never 
been: ' Dost thou believe the Bible 1 ?' but 'Dost thou believe 
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God V If we do believe that, 
then we shall further believe in the Bible : in the Old 
Testament as recording how God prepared the way for 
Christ : in the New Testament as recording how Christ lived 
and taught, and containing the witness borne to Him by 
His earthly friends and ministers. The Bible thus ' ought 
to be viewed as not a revelation itself, but a record of the 
proclaiming and receiving of a revelation, by a body which 
is still existent, and which propounds the revelation to us, 
namely the body of Christians commonly called the Church V 
The Bible is the record of the proclamation of the revelation, 
not the revelation itself. The revelation is in the Person of 
Christ, and the whole stress therefore of evidential enquiry 
should be laid upon the central question whether the Divine 
claim made for Jesus Christ by the Church is historically 
justified. The whole evidential battle of Christianity must 
thus be fought out on the field of the New Testament, not of 
the Old. If Christ be God, the Son of God, incarnate, as 
the Creeds assert, Christianity is true. No one in that case 
will find any permanent difficulty in seeing that in a most 
real sense the Bible, containing both Old and New Testaments, 
is an ' inspired volume.' 

Now faith in the Godhead of our Lord is very far from being 

1 These words are Bishop Steere's : It is (i) a criterion, not a teacher ; 

see the Memoir of him by R. M. (2) a record of the proclamation of 

Heanley, London, 1888, p. 404. He the revelation, not the revelation 

admirably characterizes the true itself, 
function of the Bible in the Church. 

the Tenth Edition. xxxvii 

a mere matter of ' evidences.' On this enough is said by 
more than one writer in this volume 1 . But so far as ' historical 
evidences' go, we have them in our generation in quite fresh 
force and power. For our New Testament documents have 
passed through a critical sifting and analysis of the most 
trenchant and thorough sort in the fifty years that lie behind 
us. From such sifting we are learning much about the 
process through which they took their present shape. But in 
all that is material we feel that this critical investigation has 
only reassured us in asserting the historical truth of the 
records on which our Christian faith rests. This reassurance 
has been both as to the substance, and as to the quality of the 
original apostolic testimony to Christ. As to its substance, 
because the critical investigation justifies us in the confident 
assertion more confident as the investigation has been more 
thorough than ever before that the Christ of our four Gospels, 
the Christ with His Divine claim and miraculous life-giving 
power, the Christ raised from the dead the third day and 
glorified at God's right hand, the Christ who is the Son of 
God incarnate, is the original Jesus of Nazareth, as they beheld 
Him and bore witness who had been educated in closest inter- 
course with Him. We are reassured also as to the quality of 
the apostolic testimony. In some ages testimony has been 
careless so careless, so clouded with superstition and 
credulity, as to be practically valueless. But in the apostles 
we have men who knew thoroughly the value of testimony 
and what depended upon it, who bore witness to what they 
had seen, and in all cases, save in the exceptional case of 
S. Paul, to what they had seen over a prolonged period of 
years ; whose conviction about Christ had been gradually 
formed in spite of much ' slowness of heart,' and even persistent 
'unbelief ; formed also in the face of Sadducean scepticism and 
in the consciousness of what would be said against them ; 
1 See pp. 29 S., 229 ff., 337 ff. 

xxxviii Preface to 

formed into such irresistible strength and unanimity by the 
solid impress of facts that nothing could shake it, either in the 
individual or in the body. Such testimony does all for us 
that testimony can do in such a case. It supports externally 
and justifies a traditional faith, which is commended to us at 
the same time internally by its self-evidencing power. And 
with that faith as the strength of our life we can await with 
confidence the issue of minor controversies. 

It may be hoped that the discussion which this book has 
raised may do good in two ways. 

It may enable people to put the Bible into its right place 
in the fabric of their Christian belief. It may help to make 
it plain that in the full sense the Christian's faith is faith 
only in a Person, and that Person Jesus Christ : that to justify 
this faith he needs from the Scriptures only the witness of 
some New Testament documents, considered as containing 
history : while his belief in the Bible as inspired is, speak- 
ing logically, subsequent to his belief in Christ, and even, 
when we include the New Testament, subsequent to his 
belief in the Church, as the Body of Christ, rather than 
prior to it 1 . 

There is also another good result to which we may hope to 
see the present controversy minister the drawing of a clear 
line in regard to development between the Old Testament 
and the New. For all modern criticism goes to emphasize 
the gradualness of the process through which, under the 
Old Covenant, God prepared the way for Christ. Now 
all that can be brought to light in this sense, the Church 
can await with indifference from a theological point of view, 
because it is of the essence of the Old Testament to be 

1 Cp. pp. 338-341, where this is ex- Christ, before they take any heed of 

plained. The ' logical ' order of belief the Church. But to feel the power 

is often no doubt not the order of of inspiration is a different thing 

experience. The Bible can draw from having reasoned grounds for 

men to itself, and through itself to calling certain books inspired. 

the Tenth Edition. xxxix 

the record of a gradual self-disclosure of God continuous and 
progressive till the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is, 
on the other hand, of the essence of the New Testament 
revelation that, as given in Christ and proclaimed by His 
apostles, it is, as far as this world is concerned, in its 
substance, final and adequate for all ages. It is this, because 
of its essential nature. If Christ is ' the Word made flesh/ 
the ' Son of God made Son of Man,' then finality essentially 
belongs to this disclosure of Godhead and this exhibition of 
manhood. ' He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father,' 
and he that hath seen Him hath seen perfect man, hath seen 
our manhood in its closest conceivable relation to God, at 
the goal of all possible spiritual and moral development. 
All our growth henceforth can only be a growth into ' the 
measure of the stature of His fulness' a growth into the 
understanding and possession of Him who was once mani- 
fested. Finality is of the essence of the New Covenant, as 
gradual communication of truth was of the Old. 

If these two results are obtained, we shall not be liable any 
more to be asked ' where we are going to stop ' in admitting 
historical uncertainty. ' If you admit so much uncertainty 
in the Old Testament, why do you not admit the same in the 
New ? ' We shall not be liable to be asked this question, be- 
cause it will be apparent that the starting-point as of enquiry, 
so of security, lies in the New Testament and then proceeds 
to extend itself to the Old. For us, at least, the Old Testa- 
ment depends upon the New, not the New upon the Old'. 

Nor shall we be liable any more to be asked, ' Why, if you 
admit so much development in actual substance in the truth 
revealed under the Old Covenant, cannot you admit a similar 
augmentation under the New 1 ?' This question will be pre- 
vented, because it will be apparent that the essential condi- 
tions are different in the two cases. Progress in Christianity 
is always reversion to an original and perfect type, not 


xl Preface to the Tenth Edition. 

addition to it : it is progress only in the understanding of the 
Christ. ' Regnum tuum, Domine, regmim omnium saeculorum ; 
et dominatio tua in omni generatione et generationem.' 

C. G. 


July, 1890. 

The chief changes of any importance in this edition are (i) the addition 
of a note at the end of the first essay ; (2) the alteration of a few sentences 
on pp. 289, 296-7 of Essay VII ; (3) the alteration of note 2 on p. 345 and 
note i on p. 346 in Essay VIII ; (4) the expansion on p. 357, 6 of the 
opening sentences ; (5) the addition of an appendix on The Christian Doctrine 
of Sin. 




I. Faith ; its situation ; its behaviour ; challenged by novel 

experiences; alarmed at its own perplexity . . . 3-5 

Yet why alarmed ? 5 

Perplexity consistent with faith, when faith is stripped of its 
habitual corroborations from without : and summoned to 

submit itself to internal observation 5~8 

For faith is an elemental act of personal self: and, therefore, 
like all such acts, e. g. of thought ; will ; love ; is, neces- 
sarily, incapable of offering itself for scientific examina- 
tion 8-1 1 

II. What is faith ? 11-12 

The motion in us of our sonship in the Father ; the conscious 

recognition, and realization, of our inherent filial ad- 
hesion to God 13-1$ 

This intimacy of relationship is capable of indefinite growth, 

of ' supernatural ' development 15 

The history of faith is the gradual discovery of this increas- 
ing intimacy 16-18 

The demand for faith is (a) universal, for all are sons ; 
(b) urgent, as appealing to a vital fact ; (e) tolerant, as 

reposing on existent fact 18-21 

III. Faith, an act of basal personality, at the root of all out- 
flowing activities ; is present, as animating force, within 
all natural faculties. When summoned out, into positive 
or direct action on its own account = Religion, i. e. the 
emergence, into open manifestation, of Fatherhood and 
sonship, which lie hidden within all secular life . . 21-28 

Faith, an energy of basal self, using, as instruments and 
material, the sum of faculties; therefore, each faculty, 
separately, can give but a partial vindication of an integral 
act of faith . 28-29 

xlii Synopsis of Contents. 


This applies to Reason ; compare its relation to acts of 
affection, imagination, chivalry ; all such acts are acts 
of Venture, using evidence of reason in order to go beyond 
evidence 30-34 

So faith makes use of all knowledge, but is, itself, its own 
motive. It uses, as its instrument, every stage of science ; 
but is pledged to no one particular stage .... 34-38 
IV. Faith, simple adhesion of soul to God; yet, once begun, it 
has a history of its own ; long, complicated, recorded in 
Bible, stored up in Creeds 38-41 

This involves difficulties, intricacies, efforts ; all this, the 
necessary consequence of our being born in the 'last 
days' 41^45 

Yet to the end, faith remains an act of personal and spiritual 

adhesion 45-46 

V. Faith, not only covers a long past, but anticipates the future ; 
it pledges itself ahead, e. g. in the case of ' ordination vows.' 
Such pledges justified, because the act of faith is personal ; 
and the object of faith is final, i.e. 'Christ, the same 
yesterday, to-day, and for ever' 46-54 


I. Object of the essay and attitude assumed .... 57-59 

II. A broad contrast between the God of Philosophy and the 

God of religion ......... 59-60 

Attempts to get rid of the opposition (i) by division of 

territory ; (2) by confusion of terms 60-63 

III. Religion demands that God shall be Personal, and stand in a 

moral relationship with man ...... 63-65 

IV. Growth and purification of the religious conception of 

God 65-68 

V. Religion and Morals. Collision between the two in Greece, 
and its consequences. Synthesis of religion and morality 
among the Jews : and in Christianity .... 68-7.8 
Subsequent collisions between religion and morals within 
the Christian Church. The Reformation a moral protest. 
Immorality of its later developments. Modern protest 
against these 78-82 

Synopsis of Contents. xliii 

FA> ; i. 

VI. Religion and Reason. Protest of Greek Philosophy against 
Polytheism. Christian Theology the meeting- point of 
Jewish religion and Greek Philosophy .... 82-86 

What Theology is. Objection to it from the side of (i) re- 
ligion, (2) Philosophy 86-90 

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity an appeal to the 

reason 90-91 

Its answer to the speculative problems of Greek thought 
(i) as to what unity is ; (2) as to the immanence of rea- 
son in nature 9 I- 95 

The witness of the Fathers 95 

The doctrine of the Trinity the true Monotheism; the 

doctrine of the Logos as personal yet immanent . . 95-96 

VII. The Christian doctrine of God why challenged in the 

present day ......... 96 

The deism of the last century. The new science of 

nature. Evolution restores the truth of the Divine 

immanence which deism denied. Pantheistic reaction . 96-102 
The Christian doctrine of God the safeguard of rational 

religion against deism and pantheism .... 102-103 

VIII. The so-called 'proofs' of the existence of God . . 103-104 
Parallel between the belief in God and the belief in nature 104-107 
Verification in experience the only 'proof.' Eeason in both 

the interpreter of Faith 107-109 


The problem of pain admits of no new treatment, but the 
attempt to use it as an argument against Christianity calls 
for a recapitulation of what may be said on the other side 113 

Pain is (i) animal, (2) human. 

(1) Animal pain is a thing of which we can only form 

imaginative conjectures ; and these, besides being 
liable to exaggeration, are not of a nature to form 
premisses for argument 113-116 

(2) Common sense tells us that human pain contributes as 

(a) punitive, (&) purgatorial, (c) prophylactic, to the 
development of the individual and the race . . . 1 1 6- 1 19 
Natural religion further views it as the necessary condi- 
tion of approach, by sinful beings, to the Divine ; and 
looks for its fuller explanation to a future existence . 119-122 

Synopsis of Contents. 

Christianity carries on the view of natural religion, and 
sees in pain and suffering : 

(a) The antidote to sin 122-124 

(b) The means of individual and social progress . 124-125 

(c) The source of sympathy with man . . . 125 

(d) The secret of union with God .... 125-126 



General considerations on the study of the historical prepara- 
tion, as part of the study of the Incarnation . . . 129-133 
Special value of such study in the present age of historical and 
scientific method which 

may be able to gauge finally the value of naturalist 

theories of the origin of Christianity . . . 133-134 
may find its own congenial ' signs ' in the beauty of 
manifold preparing process ; in the wonder of an 
apparently unique convergence of lines of prepara- 

tion 134-137 

I. General preparation in the world at large : 

(1) In the shaping of its external order .... 138-142 

(2) Through its inward experiences of 

Failure 142-146 

Progress 146-150 

II. Special preparation in Israel : 

(1) The singularity of Israel's external position at the 

critical moment of the Christian Era . . . 150-156 

(2) The paradox of its inward character . . . . 156-159 

(3) The peculiarinfluences which had made itwhat it was: 159-160 

a. Prophecy 160-167 

b. The Law 167-169 

c. The Course of its History 170-175 

III. The independence of the two preparations; the paradox 

of their fulfilment in one Christ 175-178 


I. The theory of evolution has recalled our minds to the 
' cosmical significance ' of the Incarnation, which was a 
prominent thought in (i) the early (2) mediaeval church 181-187 

Synopsis of Contents. xlv 


II. Theology and Science move in different but parallel planes : 

one gives the meaning, the other the method of creation 187-188 
Thus the doctrine of 'the Eternal Word' is compatible 
with all the verified results of scientific teaching on 

(1) energy l % 8 

(2) teleology 188-193 

(3) origin and antiquity of man .... 193-195 

(4) mental and moral evolution .... 195-199 

(5) the relation of philosophy to Theology . . 199-202 

(6) the comparative study of religions . . . 202-205 
while in the Christian view, it both illuminates and is 

illuminated by those results 205-206 

III. But when the planes intersect, and we say ' the Word was 

made flesh,' we are said to traverse experience . . 207 

(1) This charge is only a critical presumption . . 207-208 

(2) All novelties traverse past experience . . . 208 

(3) Moral experience is as real as physical . . 208-209 

(4) The Incarnation harmonizes with our moral ex- 

perience .... 209-210 

(5) By reorganizing morality it reorientates cha- 

racter 2I1 

(6) It has therefore a true relation to all phases of 

human life 211-214 



I. The principle of Dogma is not to be attacked or defended 

on a priori grounds. The real question is whether the 
Incarnation, as asserted, is true or false. And this is a 
question for evidence 217-220 

Even scientific 'dogmata' differ less from religious dogmas 
than is sometimes supposed, in that (a) both are received 
on evidence, (6) both require an experimental verifica- 
tion, or (in so far as either are still held along with 
error) correction .... 220-224 

The acceptance of dogmatic truth is essentially reasonable. 
Its claims to (a) authority, (6) finality, are not the 
ground for accepting it, but a necessary outcome of the 
facts accepted in it 224-229 

II. The evidence for the Incarnation is as many-sided as 

human life ....... 229-233 

Synopsis of Contents. 

But primarily historical. The crucial fact is the Resur- 
rection 233-236 

Everything is involved in the answer to ' What think ye of 

Christ? ' 236-238 

.t is an error to think of the belief of the Church as an 

edifice built up in the age of the Councils . . . 238-239 
The decisions of the Councils represent only a growth in 

intellectual precision through experience of error . . 239-245 
The creed in its whole substance is the direct outcome of 

the fact of the Incarnation 245-250 

III. The dogmatic creed is to be distinguished from the body 

of theological literature which comments upon it . . 250 

Theological comment is variable : it may err, it may 
develop. Herein lie most of the disputes of technical, 
and the advances of popular, theology .... 250-255 
Even the creeds are human on the side of their language . 255-258 

IV. The 'damnatory clauses,' though easily misunderstood, 

really mean what is both true, and necessary . . . 258-260 
Christian dogmatism is after all devotion to truth, for 

truth's sake 260-261 

V. The modern reading of the Scriptures without miracle 
and the Christ without Godhead depends for its justi- 
fication upon the truth of an hypothesis .... 262-266 
But this hypothesis explains away, instead of explaining, 

the evidence ; while it is itself incapable of proof . . 266-270 
Historical reality is essential to the truth of the Incar- 
nation. Mere spiritualism ends in unreality . . . 270-272 



I. Sin and sacrifice in relation to the Atonement . . . 275-276 

1. Twofold character of sin : 

(a) A state of alienation from God .... 276-277 

(b) A state of guilt 277-279 

2. Twofold character of sacrifice : 

(a) The expression of man's original relation to God 279-280 
(6) The expiation of sin, and propitiation of wrath . 280-281 
Both aspects shewn in the ceremonies of the 

Mosaic Law 281-282 

3. Inadequacy of man's offerings to satisfy sense of 

personal guilt 282-285 

Synopsis of Contents. xlvii 

II. The death of Christ answers to the demands of the sense 

of sin and of the desire for forgiveness . . . 285 

1. Christ's death a sacrifice of propitiation : 

() Of the wrath of God, which is 

(1) the hostility of Divine Nature to sin . . 285-287 

(2) the expression of the eternal law of right- 

eousness ....... 288 

(b) By virtue 

(1) Of the obedience manifested by Him . . 289-290 

(2) Of His recognition of the Divine justice . 290 

(3) Of His death as the necessary form of both 290-292 
The propitiatory character of His death 


(i.) By the general relation between 

physical and spiritual death . . 292-293 
(ii.) Because of the nature of Him who 

endured it 293-294 

(iii.) Because of the results flowing from it 294 

(c) On behalf of men, for He is our Representative 

(1) As Victim, by His perfect humanity our 

sinbearer 294-297 

(2) As Priest, able to offer what man could not 297-298 
The true vicariousness of His Priesthood . 298 

2. Christ's death the source of life 298-299 

(a) As delivering us from sin 299 

(b) As bestowing new life 299 

(c) As uniting us to God 299 

But only as connected with and issuing in the 

Resurrection and Ascension .... 300-301 
.'. Christ's death in relation to man's responsibility . 301 

(a) The Atonement, being forgiveness, must remit 

some of the consequences of sin . . 301-302 

(6) But our mystical union with Christ ensures our 

share in the sacrifice ..... 302-303 

(1) Not in its propitiation, which we can only 

plead 33-34 

(2) But by faith which accepts it and recognises 

its justice 34-35 

(3) And by following Him in obedience through 

suffering 3S-37 

III. Consideration of certain erroneous statements of the doc- 
trine 37 

1. The implied divergence of Will in the Godhead . 307-308 

xlviii Synopsis of Contents. 


2. The view of Redemption as wrought for us, not in us 308 

3. The view that Christ redeemed us by taking our 

punishment instead of us . . . . . 309 

(1) The essential punishment of alienation He could 

not bear 309 

(2) The penal sufferings which He bore are not re- 

mitted to us 309 

(3) But He bore them that we, like Him, may bear 

them sacrificially, not as punishment . . 309-310 
IV. Short summary. 

1. The death of Christ as propitiatory ) tested by 

2. His death as transforming pain and death ) experience 310-312 


Christianity is an experienced or manifested life : because its 
essence is the possession of the Spirit, and the Spirit is 

Life 3IS-W 

I. The Holy Spirit the life-giver: 

In nature 317-318 

In man 318-319 

In the gradual recovery of man from sin . . . 319-320 

In Christ 320-321 

In the Church 321-322 

His work in the Church : 

1. Social or ecclesiastical 322-323 

2. Nourishing individuality : both of character through 

the Sacraments, and of judgment through authority 323-327 

3. Consecrating the whole of nature, material as well 

as spiritual ........ 327-328 

4. By a gradual method 328 

Imperfection of the Old Testament . . . . 328-331 

of the Church 33I-33 2 

The Holy Spirit personally present and continually opera- 
tive in the Church 332-333 

II. The Theology of the Holy Spirit. Real but limited know- 
ledge through revelation 333~334 

He is (a) distinct in Person but very God, (6) proceeding 
from the Father and the Son, (c) One in essence with the 

Father and the Son 334-335 

The Doctrine of the Trinity not Tritheistic . . . 335-336 

Synopsis of Contents. xlix 


III. The Inspiration of Holy Scripture. Fatal results of not 
keeping this in context with the rest of the Holy Spirit's 
work in the Church 337~34 

1. It is an article of the Faith, not among its bases . . 340-341 

2. It is a necessary article 341 

3. Its certain and primary meaning, as seen by examina- 

tion of the books of the Old and New Testaments . 341-348 

4. Its practical meaning and obligation . 349-35 1 
Questions raised as to its meaning by Old Testament 

criticism : 

(a) While the Old Testament is, like the New Testa- 
ment, certainly and really historical, can it admit 
of elements of idealism in the narrative ? . . 351-354 
(&) Can it admit of dramatic composition ? . . 354-356 
(c) Can it admit the presence of primitive myths? . 356-357 
The Church not prevented from admitting these to be open 
questions either : 

(1) By any dogmatic definitions of inspiration . . 357-358 

(2) By our Lord's language as to the Old Testament . 358-360 
We may expect the criticism of the Old Testament, like 

that of the New, to deepen and enlarge, not impair, our 
reverence for the ' Word of God ' 360-362 



The Church the final satisfaction of certain social instincts, viz. 
the need of co-operation for life, for knowledge, and for 
worship .......... 365 

These instincts are : 

(1) Universal 365-368 

(2) Embodied in Judaism, and combined with the 

principle of God's election of one people to be a 

source of blessing to others 368-370 

(3) Fulfilled in the Incarnation 370-372 

I. The Church as the centre of spiritual life : oifers its bless- 
ings, without limitation, to all who are willing to submit 

to spiritual discipline, and combines them in a brother- 
hood of common service 37 2 ~375 

Hence it is, of necessity : 

(1) ApmWebody 375~377 

(2) One, both in its spiritual life and in external or- 

ganization. This unity implied in the New 

1 Synopsis of Contents. 


Testament, and explained in the second cen- 
tury, as centering in the Episcopate. The 
Apostolical Succession is thus the pledge of 
historic continuity, and has always been the 
mark of the English Church. Loyalty to the 
Church is no narrowing of true sympathy . 377-384 
II. The Church as the Teacher of Truth : primarily by bearing 
witness to truths revealed to it ; secondarily by inter- 
preting the relation of these truths to each other . . 384-387 
Hence : 

(1) It witnesses to the reality of central spiritual 

truths and teaches them authoritatively to its 
members 387 

(2) It trains its members to a rational apprehension of 

these truths 387-388 

(3) It leaves great freedom on points not central . 388-389 

(4) It protects the truths themselves from decay . . 389-390 
III. The Church the home of worship : worship the Godward 

expression of its life : its highest expression in the 
Eucharist : its priestly work earned out from the first by 

a special class of ministers 39~393 

Each aspect of the Church's work completed by the co- 
operation of the Blessed Dead 394 

Causes of the apparent failure of the Church . . . 394-400 
Need of its witness and work in modern times . . . 400-402 



Comprehensiveness a characteristic distinction of fruitful and 
enduring work : which will here be traced in the sacra- 
mental work of the Church ; with incidental reference 
to the evidential import of the inner coherence of Chris- 
tianity, and its perfect aptness for humanity . . . 405-408 
I. Christianity claims to be a way of life for men : whose 
nature and life involve two elements ; which are usually 
distinguished as bodily and spiritual .... 408-409 
The distinction of these two elements real; their 

union essential 409-411 

It is to be inquired whether this complexity of man's 
nature is recognised and provided for in the Church of 
Christ 411 

Synopsis of Contents. 


II. Grounds for anticipating that it would be so : 

(1) In the very fact of the Incarnation; and more 

particularly 411-413 

(2) In the character of the preparatory system whose 

forecasts it met 413-414 

(3) And in certain conspicuous features of Christ's 

ministry 414-415 

The work of Sacraments to be linked with this anticipa- 
tion 415 

III. The prominence of the Sacramental principle in Christ's 

teaching : to be estimated with reference to the previous . 
convictions of those whom He taught .... 415-416 
There is thus found : 

(1) Abundant evidence that the general principle of 

Sacraments is accepted, to be a characteristic of 
Christianity 416-417 

(2) The authoritative appointment of particular ex- 

pressions for this general principle : 

Expressions foreshown in preparatory history: 
anticipated in preliminary discourses : ap- 
pointed with great solemnity and em- 
phasis 417-418 

[These expressions such as may be seen to be in- 
trinsically appropriate, ethically helpful and 
instructive, and safeguards against indivi- 
dualism.] 418-420 

(3) An immediate recognition in the Apostolic Church 

of the force of this teaching, and of the necessary 
prominence of Sacraments ..... 420-421 

IV. The correspondence between the ministry of Sacraments 

and the complex nature of man appears in three ways : 
since : 

(1) The dignity and the spiritual capacity of the 

material order is thus vindicated and maintained : 
so that unreal and negative spirituality is pre- 
cluded, and provision is made for the hallowing 
of stage after stage in a human life . . . 422-426 

(2) The claim of Christianity to penetrate the bodily 

life is kept in its due prominence by the very 
nature of Sacraments : the redemption of the 
body is foreshown ; and perhaps begun . . 426-429 


Synopsis of Contents. 


(3) I he evidences of mystery in human nature, its 
moments of unearthliness, its immortal longings, 
its impatience of finite satisfaction, being recog- 
nised and accounted for by the doctrine of Grace 
are met by Sacraments : and led in an ordered 
progress towards a perfect end .... 429-433 



INTRODUCTORY. The twofold problem of Christianity in its 
relation to human society 

(i) To consecrate ; (2) to purify 437-440 

I. The Church is neutral as to natural differences, e.g. the 

form of government, autocratic or democratic leaning . 440-442 

II. The Church supplements the moral influence of the State, 
in respect of 

(1) The appeal to higher motives .... 443-445 

e.g. as to the duties of 

(a) Governors and governed .... 446-45 1 

(6) Owners of property 451-452 

(2) The support of the weak against the strong . . 452-455 

(3) The maintenance of religion 455-461 

III. The Church purifies the whole social life of mankind 

(1) By spreading Christian ideas .... 461-462 

(2) By maintaining the Christian type of character . 462-463 
CONCLUSION. The Church appeals to deeper needs than the 

State and is therefore fundamentally Catholic, and only 
incidentally national 463-464 



General characteristics of the Christian ethical system . . 467-468 
Dogmatic postulates : 

(i) Doctrine of God : God a Personal and Ethical 


Synopsis of Contents. liii 


(2) Doctrine of Man : his ideal nature ; his destiny as 

related to the good through conscience and 

freedom ; his present condition . . . 470-476 

(3) Doctrine of Christ : Catholic view of His Person . 476 

I. Christ's revelation of the Highest Good .... 476-480 

The Kingdom of God : twofold meaning of the term . 477-479 

Christian view of the world 479-480 

II. The Moral Law ; its authority, sanctions, and content . 480-489 

The basis of obligation found in the idea of personal 

relationship between God and Man .... 480-482 

The sanctions, and motives of Christian Morality . 482-484 

The Law of Duty embraced in the decalogue . . 484-489 

III. Christ the pattern of character 489-504 

Conditions required in the perfect example . . 490-491 
Christ the pattern of filial dependence, obedience, and 

love 491-494 

Virtuous action seen to imply a harmony of the dif- 
ferent elements in personality, postulating a three- 
fold virtuous principle supematurally imparted . 494-496 
Christian character : the Christian personality in its 
relation : 

(1) To God Christian Wisdom 497-498 

(2) To Man Christian Justice 498-501 

(3) To Self Christian Temperance .... 501-502 

(4) To the hindrances of environment Christian 

Fortitude 502-503 

IV. Christ the source of the recreation of character . . 504-512 

Claim of Christianity to recreate character . . 504-505 

Dogmatic truths implied in the recreative process . 505-506 
Holiness dependent on a permanent relation to 

Christ 506 

The Church a school of character, and sphere of indi- 
vidual discipline ....... 506-508 

Christian ascetics their ground in reason, and effect 

on character 509-512 

V. The consummation of God's kingdom .... 512-518 

The intermediate stage 513 

The final stage of glory : 

(i) The kingdom to be finally manifested . . 513-514 

(ii) and purified through judgment . . . 514 

Extent and limits of the final triumph of good . 514-516 

liv Synopsis of Contents. 


Perfection of human personality : the perfect state 
one of 

harmony 516-517 

glory 517 

blessedness 517 

and fellowship in a moral community . . . 517 

VI. Conclusion : relation of Christian Ethics to the products of 

civilization, to individual character, to social life . . 518-520 








I. IN proposing to consider the origin and growth of faith, 
we have a practical, and not a merely theoretical, aim. We 
are thinking of the actual problems which are, at this moment, 
encompassing and hindering faith : and it is because of their 
urgency and their pressure, that we find it worth while to 
go back upon our earliest beginnings, in order to ask what 
Faith itself means. For only through an examination of its 
nature, its origin, and its structure, will it be possible for us 
to sift the questions which beset us, and to distinguish those 
to which Faith is bound to give an answer from those which 
it can afford to let alone. 

We set out then on our quest, in the mind of those who 
have felt the trouble that is in the air. Even if we our- 
selves be not of their number, yet we all suffer from their 
hesitation : we all feel the imparted chill of their anxieties. 
For we are of one family : and the sickness, or depression of 
some, must affect the whole body. All of us, even the most 
confident, are interested in the case of those who are fearing 
for themselves, as they sadly search their own hearts, and 
ask, ' What is it to believe ? Do I know what it is to be- 
lieve ? Have I, or have I not, that which can be called 
" faith " 1 How can I be sure ? What can I say of myself? ' 
Such questions as these are haunting and harassing many 
among us who find themselves facing the Catholic Creed, 
with its ring of undaunted assurance, with its unhesitating 
claim to unique and universal supremacy, and contrast with 
this their own faint and tentative apprehension of the strong 
truths, which are so confidently asserted. Such men and 

B 2 

4 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

women are anxious and eager to number themselves among 
those that believe : but can they call this temper ' belief,' 
which is so far below the level of the genuine response which 
those Creeds obviously expect 1 ? Where is the blitheness of 
faith 1 Where is its unshaken conviction ? Where is its 
invincible simplicity 1 ? Why is it that they only succeed in 
moving forward with such painful indecision? 

Now, it is to this temper that this essay is addressed. It 
does not aim at convicting a hostile disbelief, but at succour- 
ing a distressed faith. And this it does under the conviction 
that, in so doing, it is responding to the peculiar character 
and needs of the situation. 

For the urgency, the peril of the hour, lies, not so much in 
the novelty, or force, of the pressure that is brought to bear 
against faith, as in the behaviour of faith itself under the 
pressure. What has happened is, not that faith has been 
confounded, but that it has been challenged. It has been 
challenged by new social needs, by strange developments of 
civilisation, by hungers that it had not yet taken into account, 
by thirsts that it had not prepared itself to satisfy. It has 
been challenged by new scientific methods, wholly unlike its 
familiar intellectual equipment ; by new worlds of facts opened 
to its astonishment through discoveries which have changed 
the entire look of the earth ; by immense masses of novel 
material, which it has been suddenly and violently required 
to assimilate ; by strange fashions of speech in science and 
history ; by a babel of ' unknown tongues ' in all departments 
of learning and literature. 

Faith is under the pressure of this challenge : and the 
primary question is, how will it behave ? What is it going 
to say, or do, in face of this exciting transformation which 
has passed over the entire surface of our intellectual scenery ? 
How will it deal with the situation 1 ? Will it prove itself 
adequate to the crisis 1 To what extent can it afford to sub- 
mit to the transforming process which has already operated 
upon the mind and the imagination? If it submit, can it 
survive ? And in what condition ? with what loss, or damage, 
or change ? On every side these challenges reach it ; they beat 

i. Faith. 5 

at its doors ; they arrive in pelting haste ; they clamour for 
immediate solutions. 

Now faith, under these rapid and stormy challenges, is apt 
to fall into panic. For this, surely, is the very meaning of 
a panic a fear that feeds upon itself. Men in a panic are 
frightened at finding themselves afraid. So now with faith ; 
it is terrified at its own alarm. How is it (it asks itself) 
that it should find itself baffled and timorous ? If faith were 
faith, would it ever lose its confidence 1 To be frightened is 
to confess itself false : for faith is confidence in God, Who 
can never fail. How can faith allow of doubt or hesitation 1 
Surely for faith to hesitate, to be confused, is to deny its 
very nature. Thus many anxious and perplexed souls retreat 
before their own perplexities. Because their faith is troubled, 
they distrust and abandon their faith. The very fact that 
it is in distress becomes an argument against it. 

It is at this point, and because of this particular peril that 
we are urgently required to consider very seriously the nature 
and conditions of faith. For our panic arises from our as- 
sumption that faith is of such a nature, that the perplexity, 
into which, now and again, we find ourselves thrown, must 
be impossible to it, must be incompatible with it. Now, is 
this so? Ought we to expect of faith that its confidence 
should never fail it that its light should be always decisive 1 
Is faith incriminated by the mere fact that it is in difficulties '? 

Let us, first, consider what has occurred. Perhaps the situa- 
tion itself, if we quietly review it, will give a reason why it 
is that, just at the moment when we most need vigour and 
assurance, we should find ourselves stripped of all that tends 
to reassure. 

For the peculiarity of the disturbance which we have got to 
encounter lies in this, that it has removed from us the very 
weapons by which we might hope to encounter it. Faith's 
evidential material is all corroborative and accumulative ; it 
draws it from out of an external world, which can never 
wholly justify, or account for the internal reality, yet which 
can so group itself, that from a hundred differing lines, it offers 
indirect and parenthetic and convergent witness of that which 

6 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

is, itself, beyond the reach of external proof. It is this gradual 
grouping of an outer life into that assorted perspective in 
which it offers the most effective corroboration of the inner 
truth, which faith slowly accomplishes upon the matter which 
human science presents to it. When once the grouping is 
achieved, so that the outer world, known under certain 
scientific principles, tallies harmoniously with its inner con- 
victions, faith feels secure. The external life offers it pictures, 
analogies, metaphors all echoing and repeating the inter- 
nal world. Faith beholds itself mirrored : and, so echoed, so 
mirrored, it feels itself in possession of corroborating evidences. 
But the present scientific confusion seems to have shattered 
the mirror to have broken up the perspective to have dis- 
solved the well-known groupings. It is true, as some of the 
essays which follow will try to show, that the convulsion of 
which we speak, lies, chiefly, in a change of position, or of 
level ; so that great masses of the matter, now thrown into 
confusion, will be found to compose themselves afresh, under 
the newer conditions of review, and will appear again as part 
and parcel of the scientific scenery. It is a change of perspec- 
tive more than anything else. But, no doubt, such a change is 
just of the character to upset us, to disturb us ; for, during 
the change, while shifting from the old position to the new, we 
are in the very chaos of confusion ; everything seems, for the 
moment, to be tumbling about around us : the entire scene 
grows unsteady ; though, indeed, when once we have got our 
feet firmly placed at the new level of vantage, much, that once 
was familiar, is discovered to be back again in its place, 
looking much the same as of old. It is the first shock of 
this enforced transition which is so calculated to terrify : as 
when, for instance, men see their habitual reliance on the 
evidence for design in nature, which had been inherited from 
Paley, yield, and vanish, under the review of the facts with 
which the theory of evolution acquaints them. What they 
feel is, that their familiar mode of interpreting their faith, 
of justifying it, of picturing it, has abruptly been torn from 
them. That which once seemed to evidence it in the outer 
world, has ceased to be accepted or trusted. The habitual 

i. Faith. 7 

ways of argument, the accepted assumptions, which they had 
hitherto used as their supports and their instruments have 
been withdrawn have become obsolete. Faith is thrown back 
on itself, on its own inherent, naked vitality ; it is robbed for 
the moment of that sense of solidity and security, which forti- 
fies and refreshes it, when the outer world of natural facts, 
and the inner world of intellect and fancy, all corroborate its 
confidence in itself, by harmonious attestations of its validity. 
The old world of things had been brought into this adaptation 
with the principles of belief. Faith was at home in it, and 
looked out over it with cheerfulness, and moved about it with 
freedom. But that old world is gone ; and the new still lies 
untested, unsorted, unverified, unassimilated, unhandled. It 
looks foreign, odd, remote. Faith finds no obvious corrobora- 
tions in it : there, where it used to feel buttressed and warm, 
it now feels chilly and exposed l . 

This is the first consequence, and it is serious enough in itself 
to provoke alarm. Faith cannot be at ease or confident, until 
the outer world responds to its own convictions ; and yet ease 
and confidence are exactly what it is challenged to exhibit. 

And then, when a man, under this sense of fear, de- 
prived of external testimonies, attempts to exhibit, to evoke, 
to examine, his inner conviction, in its inherent and vital 
character, as it is in itself, unsupported by adventitious aids, 
he is astonished at his own difficulty in discovering or dis- 
closing it. Where is it all fled that which he had called his 
faith"? He had enjoyed it, had relied on it, had again and 
again asserted it in word and deed : and now, when he wants 
to look at it, when he is summoned to produce it, when he is 
challenged to declare its form and fashion; he finds himself 
dazed, bewildered, searching helplessly for that which ever 
escapes him, grasping at a fleeting shadow, which baffles his 
efforts to endow it with fixity and substance. And, so finding, 
he grows yet more desperately alarmed : it seems to him that 
he has been self-deceived, betrayed, abandoned. He is bitterly 
sensitive to the sharp contrast between the triumphant 
solidity with which scientific facts bear down upon him, 

1 Cf. on all this, an excellent statement in Mark Pattison's Sermons. Serm. 7. 

8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

certified, undeniable, substantial, and the vague, shifty, in- 
distinct phantom, into which his conviction vanishes as soon 
as he attempts to observe it in itself, or draw it out for 
public inspection. 

Yet, if we consider what faith signifies, we shall see at once 
that this contrast ought to carry with it no alarm. It is a 
contrast which follows on the very nature of faith. If we had 
understood its nature, we could never have expected it to dis- 
close itself under the same conditions as those which govern 
the observation of scientific facts. Faith is an elemental 
energy of the soul, and the surprise that we are undergoing 
at not being able to bring it under direct observation, is only 
an echo of the familiar shock with which we learn that science 
has ransacked the entire bodily fabric of man, and has nowhere 
come across his soul ; or has searched the heavens through and 
through with its telescope, and has seen no God. We are up- 
set for a moment when first we hear this ; and then, we recover 
ourselves as we recollect that, if God be what we believe Him 
to be, immaterial and spiritual, then He would cease to be 
Himself, if He were visible through a telescope : and that if 
the spirit of man be what we believe it to be, that is the very 
reason why no surgeon's knife can ever arrive at it. 

And, as with the soul, so with all its inherent and essential 
acts. They are what it is : they can no more be visible than 
it can. How can any of the basal intuitions, on which our 
knowledge rests, present themselves to our inspection in the 
guise of external and phenomenal facts ? That which observes 
can never, strictly speaking, observe itself. It can never look 
on at itself from outside, or view itself as one among the mul- 
titude of things that come under its review. How can it ? It 
is itself the organ of vision : and the eye cannot see its own 
power of seeing. This is why natural science, which is an 
organised system of observation, finds that its own observing 
mind is absolutely and totally outside its ken. It can take 
stock of the physiological condition of thoughts or of feelings ; 
but they themselves, in their actual reality, are all rigidly 
shut out from the entire area of scientific research. Wherever 
they begin, it ends ; its methods abruptly fail. It possesses 

i. Faith. 9 

no instrument by which to make good its advance further. 
For the only instrument which it knows how to use, and 
by which alone it can search, and examine, is itself the 
object which it desires to submit to examination. But if 
it is to be examined, who, and what, is to conduct the ex- 
amination? The observing mind that turns round to ex- 
plore itself, carries itself round as it turns. It can never 
say 'Let me look at myself, as if I were a phenomenon, 
as a fact presented to my own consciousness,' for it itself 
would be engaged in the act of looking : it itself is the con- 
sciousness to which it proposes to present itself 1 . So again, 
the thought itself can never hope, by rigid analysing, to 
arrive at last at itself, as the final residue of the analysis, 
for it is itself, all along, employed as analyst. The process 
of analysis is, itself, the real disclosure of what thought 
is : and this disclosure is made just as effectively even 
though the result of the analysis be to declare that it can 
discover nothing that corresponds to thought. It is, in- 
deed, impossible that anything should so correspond, except 
the power to analyse ; but this power is thought : and every 
act of the analysis, which issues in the sceptical conclusion, 
has verified the real existence of thought. It is the same 
with all profound spiritual acts. None of them can ever be 
offered to public inspection : they can never be handed across 
to another, for him to look at. For they are living acts, and 
not external results. How can an act of will, or of love, be 
submitted to observation "? Its outward result is there to be 
examined ; but it, itself, is incapable of transportation. If 
anyone were to ask ' What is it you mean by thinking, or 
loving, or willing ? ' who could tell him ? It would be 
obviously impossible to explain, except to a being who could 
think, will, and love. You could give him illustrations of 
what you mean signs instances evidences ; but they can 
only be intelligible, as evidences, to one who already possesses 
the faculties. No one can do a piece of thinking for another, 

1 It is not intended to deny that be won by methods of empirical 
the mind can ever know itself, but observation, 
only that such knowledge can ever 

io The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and hand it over to him in a parcel. Only by thinking, can 
it be known what thought is: only by feeling can it be 
understood what is meant by a feeling: only by seeing, 
willing, loving, can we have the least conception of sight, or 
of will, or of love. 

And faith stands with these primary intuitions. It is deeper 
and more elemental than them all: and, therefore, still less 
than they can it admit of translation into other conditions 
than its own ; can still less submit itself to public observation. 
It can never be looked at from without. It can be known 
only from within itself. Belief is only intelligible by be- 
lieving. Just as a man who is asked to say what love is, apart 
from all its outward manifestations and results, must be driven 
back on the iteration ' Love is what love is : everyone who 
loves, knows ; no one who does not love, can ever know ;' just 
as a man, who is challenged to describe and define his feelings 
or his desires, when stripped of all the outward evidences 
that they can possibly give of themselves, is thrown into 
inarticulate bewilderment, and can give no intelligible answer, 
and can fashion to himself no distinct feature or character, 
and can only assert, confusedly, that he feels what he 
feels, and that to desire is to desire; so with faith. 
The scientific convulsion has shaken and confused its 
normal modes of self-interpretation, its usual evidences, signs, 
illustrations : these outer aids at definition, by metaphor or 
by corroboration, are all brought under dim eclipse for the 
moment: their relative values have been thrown into un- 
certainty: they are undergoing temporary displacement, and 
no one is quite sure which is being shifted, and which can be 
trusted to stand firm. Faith, robbed of its habitual aids to 
expression, is summoned to show itself on the field, in its own 
inner character. And this is just what it never can or may do. 
It can only reiterate, in response to the demand for definition, 
' Faith is faith.' ' Believing is just believing.' Why, then, 
let ourselves be distressed, or bewildered, by finding ourselves 
reduced to this impotence of explanation ? Far from it bei] 
an incrimination of our faith, to find ourselves caught in such 
a difficulty of utterance, it is just what must happen if faith 

i. Faith. 1 1 

be a profound and radical act of the inner soul. It is, es- 
sentially, an active principle, a source of energy, a spring of 
movement : and, as such, its verification can never take place 
through passive introspection. It verifies itself only in actions : 
its reality can only be made evident through experience of its 
living work. 

II. We may, then, free ourselves from the sinister suspicions 
which belong to panic. It is not the superficiality of our 
faith, which is the secret of our bewilderment, but its depth. 
The deepest and most radical elements of our being are, 
necessarily, the hardest to unearth. They are, obviously, the 
most remote from the surface of our lives : they are the 
rarest to show themselves in the open daylight : they require 
the severest effort to disentangle their identity : they lie below 
all ordinary methods of utterance and expression ; they can 
only be discovered through careful recognition of the secret 
assumptions which are involved in the acts and words which 
they habitually produce. By these acts and words their 
existence and their force is suggested, but not exhausted 
manifested, but not accounted for. These form our only 
positive interpretation and evidence : and such evidence must, 
therefore, always remain inadequate, imperfect ; we have 
always and inevitably to go behind it, and beyond it, in order 
to reach and touch the motive-energy which is disclosed to us 
through it. No wonder that we find this far from an easy 
matter. No wonder that, under the pressure of a hostile 
challenge, we often lose ourselves in a confused babble, as 
we struggle to make plain to others, or even to ourselves, 
these innermost convictions of our souls. 

Indeed, such things can never be made plain : no one ought 
to expect that they should. For, if we think of it, the 
primary acts of spirit must be the last things that can ever be 
made plain ; for the entire life issuing from them is their only 
interpretation, so that only when that life is closed, can their 
interpretation be complete. And here, in faith, we are at the 
root of a life which, as we believe, it will take eternity to fulfil. 
And, if so, only in and through eternity can its full evidence 
for itself be produced, or its right interpretation be yielded. 

1 2 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Surely, this truth clears us from many clamorous de- 
mands, which ask of us an impossible verification. For if 
once we saw that we were employed in verifying the nature 
of that which, if it be real, can, confessedly, present us, on 
this side of the grave, only with the most fragmentary evi- 
dence of its character, we should put lightly aside the taunting 
challenge to produce such proof of our motive principle as 
will stand comparison with the adequate and precise evidences 
of a scientific fact, or which will submit to the rigid tests of 
a legal examination. If faith be faith, it could not, for that 
very reason, fulfil the conditions so proposed to it. These 
legal and scientific conditions are laboriously and artificially 
limited to testing the presence of a motive, or a force, which 
must be assumed to exist under fixed, precise, complete con- 
ditions, here and now. They pre-suppose that, for all prac- 
tical purposes, its quantity cannot vary, or fluctuate. If it 
be present at all, it is present in a distinct and formal manner, 
open to definite measurement, expressing itself in unalter- 
able characteristics. The entire consideration of its activity 
is strictly confined to the normal horizon of the actual 
world of present existence. These assumptions are the first 
necessity of all forms of science, without making which, it 
could not even begin. They are the conditions of all its 
success. But they are also its limitations : and as such, they 
most certainly exclude from their survey, anything that pro- 
fesses to exist after the manner of faith. For what is faith 1 
It is no steady force, existing under certified and unvarying 
conditions which receive their final determination in the 
world about us. Faith is, while it is here on earth, only 
tentative probation: it is a struggling and fluctuating effoi 
in man to win for himself a valid hold upon things that exist 
under the conditions of eternity. In faith, we watch the earlj 
and rude beginnings, amid an environment that but faintb 
and doubtfully responds to it, of a power still in the womb- 
still unborn into its true sphere still enveloped in darl 
wrappings which encumber and impede. We see here but it 
blind, uncertain pushings, its hesitating moves, now forwarc 
now back, now strangely vigorous and assertive, and thei 

i. Faith. 1 3 

again, as strangely weak and retreating. Its significance, its 
interpretation, its future possibilities, its secret of develop- 
ment all these lie elsewhere, beyond death, beyond vision : 
we can but dimly guess, from its action here, what powers feed 
it, on what resources it can rely, what capacity of growth is 
open to it, what final issue determines the measure and value 
of its efforts and achievements here. Such a force as this is 
bound to upset all our ablest calculations. We can never lay 
down rules to govern and predict its capabilities. It will 
disappoint every conceivable test that we can devise for 
fixing its conditions. It will laugh at our attempts to circum- 
scribe its action. Where we look for it to be weak, it will 
suddenly show itself strong : when we are convinced that we 
may expect a vigorous display of its capacities, it will mys- 
teriously lapse. All this may terribly disconcert us. It may 
tempt us into angry declarations that such an incalculable 
existence is unworthy of scientific attention is fanciful, is 
unreal. But the only lesson which we ought to learn is that 
methods adapted for one state of things are bound to prove 
themselves futile when applied to another. If we are em- 
ployed in observing a life, which has its ground and its end 
in a world beyond the present, then all methods framed for 
the express and definite purpose of examining life as it exists 
here and now, will necessarily prove themselves ludicrously 
inapt. The futility, the barrenness, the ineptitude of our 
researches, lies, not with the faith against which we level our 
irritable complaints, but with the methods which, by their very 
terms of definition, proclaim themselves to be misplaced. 

Where, then, must we dig to unearth the roots of faith? 
What are the conditions of its rise and exercise? Wherein 
lie its grounds, and the justification of its claim? 

Faith grounds itself, solely and wholly, on an inner and vital 
relation of the soul to its source. This source is most certainly 
elsewhere ; it is not within the compass of the soul's own 
activity. In some mode, inconceivable and mysterious, our 
life issues out of an impenetrable background : and as our 
life includes spiritual elements, that background has spiritual 
factors : and as our life is personal, within that background 

14 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

exists personality. This supply of life in which we begin, 
from out of which our being opens, can never cease, so long 
as we exist, to sustain us by one continuous act. Ever its 
resources flow in : ever its vital support is unwithdrawn. In 
some fashion or other, we all know that this must be so : and 
the Christian Creed only lifts into clear daylight, and endows 
with perfect expression, this elementary and universal verity, 
when it asserts that at the very core of each man's being lies, 
and lives, and moves, and works, the creative energy of the 
Divine Will ' the Will of our Father Which is in Heaven.' 

We stand, by the necessities of our existence, in the relation- 
ship of sons to a Father, Who has poured out into us, and still 
pours, the vigour of His own life. This is the one basis of all 
faith. Unless this relationship actually exists, there could be 
no faith : if it exists, then faith is its essential corollary : it is 
bound to appear. Our faith is simply the witness to this inner 
bond of being. That bond, which is the secret of our entire 
existence, accounting for all that we are, or do, or feel, or think, 
or say, must become capable of recognition by a being that is, 
in any sense, free, intelligent, conscious : and this recognition 
by us of the source from whence we derive, is what we mean by 
faith. Faith is the sense in us that we are Another's creature, 
Another's making. Even as we not only feel, but feel that 
we feel ; not only think, but know that we think ; not only 
choose, but determine to choose : so, below and within all 
our willing, and thinking, and feeling, we are conscious of 
Another, whose mind and will alone make possible both the 
feeling that we feel, and also the capacity to feel it ; both the 
thought that we think, and also the capacity to know it; 
both the will that we put forth, as well as the power to 
determine it. Every act, every desire, every motive of ours, 
is dependant on the source out of sight : we hang on Another's 
will ; we are alive in Another's life. All our life is a dis- 
covery, a disclosure, of this secret. We find it out only by 
living. As we put out powers that seem to be our own, still 
even in and by the very act of putting them out, we reveal 
them to be not our own ; we discover that we are always 
drawing on unseen resources. We are sons : that is the root- 

i. Faith. 1 5 

law of our entire self. And faith is the active instinct of that 
inner sonship : it is the point at which that essential sonship 
emerges into consciousness ; it is the disclosure to the self of 
its own vital secret ; it is the thrill of our inherent childhood, 
as it makes itself felt within the central recesses of the life ; 
it is the flame that shoots into consciousness at the recos:- 


nition of the touch of our divine fatherhood ; it is the imme- 
diate response of the sonship in us to its discovered origin. 

Faith, then, is an instinct of relationship based on an inner 
actual fact. And its entire office and use lies in realising the 
secret fact. For the bond is spiritual ; and it can only realise 
itself in a spirit that has become aware of its own laws. No 
blind animal acceptance of the divine assistance can draw 
out the powers of this sonship. The reception of the assist- 
ance must itself be conscious, loving, intelligent, willing. 
The natural world can receive its full capacities from God 
without recognition of the source whence they flow in : but 
this absence of living recognition forbids it ever to surpass 
those fixed limits of development which we name ' natural.' 
But a creature of God that could not only receive but recog- 
nise that it received, would, by that very recognition, lay 
itself open to an entirely novel development; it would be 
susceptible of infinitely higher influences shed down upon it 
from God ; it would admit far finer and richer inpourings of 
divine succours ; it would be fed, not only from underground 
channels as it were, but by fresh inlets which its conscious- 
ness of its adherence in God would uncover and set in motion. 
The action of God upon His creatures would be raised to a 
new level of possibility: for a living and intelligent will 
has capacities of receptivity, which were altogether excluded 
so long as God merely gave, and the creature blindly and 
dumbly took. Faith, then, opens an entirely new career 
for creaturely existence ; and the novelty of this career is 
expressed in the word ' supernatural.' The ' supernatural ' 
world opens upon us as soon as faith is in being 1 . 

1 The word super- natural ' is ob- of life are not 'natural.' Of course, 
yiously misleading, since it seems to the higher the life, the more intensely 
imply that the higher spiritual levels ' natural ' it is ; and the nature of 

1 6 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

And this career, it will be seen, is markedly distinct from 
the natural in this that it is capable of ever advancing 
expansion. All natural things, which blindly accept their 
life from God, must, perforce, have a decreed and certified 
development, limited by the conditions in which they are 
found existing. Their receptivity is a fixed quantity, deter- 
mined by the character imposed upon them at creation, and 
bound to come to an abrupt arrest at some precise point 1 . 
But receptivity through conscious recognition is open to a 
development of which it is impossible for us to fix the limits. 
For this living recognition itself advances in its capacity to 
see and understand. Every act by which it recognises the 
Giver in the gifts, heightens and intensifies its power to re- 
cognise Him ; and every increase of its power to recognise 
Him increases also its capacity to receive ; and this increase 
will again react on the faculties of recognition. A vision 
opens out of spiritual growth, in which every step forward 
made through incoming grace, makes a new step possible, 
finds a fresh grace ever waiting to crown its latest gift with 
ever new endowment. The sonship that is at work under- 
ground in man, below the level of consciousness, at the hidden 
base of faith, is one that holds in it capacities which can only 
be evoked under the appeals of a living and voluntary faith. 
Faith is the discovery of an inherent sonship, which, though 
already sealed to it, already in action, nevertheless cannot but 
withhold its more rich and splendid energies until this dis- 
covery is made ; and which discloses them only according to 
the progressive clearness and force with which the process oJ 
discovery advances. The history of faith is the history o1 
this gradual disclosure, this growing capacity to recognise and 
receive, until the rudimentary omen of God's fatherhood in 
the rudest savage who draws, by clumsy fetich, or weird in- 
cantation, upon a power outside himself, closes its long story 

God must be the supreme expression present and visible system of things, 
of the natural. But the word ' super- ' It is this point of arrest which is 

natural' is, in reality, only concerned reached and revealed by the process 

with the partial and conventional use of Evolution, under the pressure of 

of ' nature,' as a term under which Natural Selection. 
we sum up all that constitutes this 

i. Faith. 1 7 

in the absolute recognition, the perfect and entire receptivity, 
of that Son of man, who can do nothing of Himself, ' but what 
He seeth the Father do,' and, for that very reason, can do 
everything : for whatsoever ' the Father doeth, the Son doeth 

Faith, then, is not only the recognition by man of the 
secret source of his being, but it is itself, also, the condition 
under which the powers, that issue from that source, make 
their arrival within him. The sonship, already germinal, 
completes itself, realises itself in man, through his faith. Not 
only is the unconscious human nature held by attachment to 
the Father who feeds it with hidden succours, but faith is, itself, 
the power by which the conscious life attaches itself to God ; 
it is an apprehensive motion of the living spirit, by which it 
intensifies its touch on God ; it is an instinct of surrender, by 
which it gives itself to the fuller handling of God : it is an 
affection of the will, by which it presses up against God, and 
drinks in divine vitality with quickened receptivity 1 . 

What then will be its characteristics'? We have only to 
keep close to the conception of sonship, and we shall under- 
stand them well enough. Faith is the attitude, the temper, of 
a son towards a father. That is a relationship that we all 
can understand for ourselves. We know it, in spite of all the 
base and cruel corruptions under which, in the homes of man, 
its beauty lies disfigured. Still, beneath disguises, we catch 
sight, in rare and happy conditions, of that beautiful intimacy 
which can spring up between a son and a father, where love 
is one with reverence, and duty fulfils itself in joy. Such a 
sonship is like a spiritual instinct, which renders intelligible 
to the son every mood and gesture of the father. His very 
blood moves in rhythm to the father's motives. His soul 
hangs, for guidance, on the father's eyes : to him, each motive 
of the father justifies itself as a satisfying inspiration. The 
father's will is felt deliciously encompassing him about ; en- 
closed within it, his own will works, glad and free in its 
fortifying obedience. Such a relationship as this needs no 

1 Faith is spoken of, here and else- as if unthwarted by the misdirection, 
where, in its perfect and true form, and hurt of sin. 

1 8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

justifying sanction beyond itself: it is its own sanction, 
its own authority, its own justification. ' He is my father ' : 
that is a sufficient reason for all this sympathetic response 
to another's desire. ' I am his son ' : that is the final pre- 
miss in which all argument comes to a close. The willing 
surrender of the heart is the witness to a fact which is 
beyond argument, which accepts no denial, yet which is no 
tyrannous fate, but is a living and animating bond of blood, 
which it is a joy to recognise, and an inspiration to confess. 

It is in such a spirit of sonship that faith reveals and 
realises itself. Faith is that temper of sympathetic and 
immediate response to Another's will which belongs to a 
recognised relationship of vital communion. It is the spirit 
of confident surrender, which can only be justified by an 
inner identification of life. Its primary note, therefore, will 
be trust that trust of Another, which needs no ulterior 
grounds on which to base itself, beyond what is involved in 
the inherent law of this life. Faith will ever discover, when 
its reason for action, or belief, are traced to their last source, 
that it arrives at a point where its only and all-sufficient 
plea will be ' God is my Father : I am His child.' That 
relationship is its root ; on the top of that relationship 
faith works ; as a witness to that relationship, it puts forth 
all the spiritual temper which, of necessity, follows on this 
intimacy of contact. 

And, here, we find ourselves in the presence of the law by 
which faith claims to be universal. Unless this inner relation- 
ship be a fact, faith could not account for itself: but if it be a 
fact, it must constitute a fixed and necessary demand upon all 
men. All are, equally, ' children of God ' : and the answer to 
the question 'Why should I believe 1 ?' must be, for ever and 
for all, valid ; ' because you are a child of God.' Faith is 
nothing but the spiritual temper and attitude, which belong, 
inherently, to such a fact. No one can escape from such a 
claim: for his existence constitutes the claim. If he be a 
child, it must be demanded of him, that he should display the 
characteristics of his childhood: the father must, of necessity, 
be concerned with the question of his own recognition by his 

i. Faith. 1 9 

son. Our manhood lies in this essential sonship : and, if so, 
then to be without faith, without the conscious realisation of the 
sonship, is to be without the fulness of a man's proper nature. 
It is to be inhuman : to be curtailed of the natural develop- 
ment : to be maimed and thwarted. It means that the vital 
outcome of the inner verity has been arrested ; that the sen- 
sitive perceptions have been blunted and stunted ; that the 
sonship in us has, somehow, lost touch with its true fatherhood. 

We learn at once,as we consider this, the interpretation of that 
two-sided character, which surprises us in God's dealings with 
men : i. e. the imperative rigour of His stated requirements, 
coupled with His wide and patient tolerance, in actual fact. 

As a Father of all, He cannot, conceivably, be satisfied with 
anything short of complete recognition by His children. He 
must look for faith ; He must require it of them all : He 
must leave no means untried by which to secure it : He must 
seek to win it at all costs : His love is inevitably and cruelly 
hindered, unless He can obtain it : and when He obtains it, 
He must passionately desire to establish, evoke, develope, 
perfect it : for each rise in faith is a rise in capacities of inter- 
course, of intimacy, between Father and son. We see how 
strenuous and zealous will be His efforts to build up faith in 
men : we understand how urgent, and pressing, and alarming 
will become His entreaties, His warnings, His menaces, 
His appeals, if faith is allowed to slide or fail. Loss of 
faith means a shattered home, a ruptured intimacy, a sun- 
dered love ; it means that a Father must look on while the 
very nature He has made in His image shrivels and shrinks, 
and all hope of growth, of advancing familiarity, of increasing 
joy, of assured sympathy, is cut down and blighted. We all 
know the bitterness of a breach which scatters a family into 
fragments : and that is but a faint shadow of all which the 
great Father sees to be involved in the broken contact between 
Himself and His son. What standard have we by which to 
sound the abyss of divine disappointment, as God waits ready 
with gift upon gift of endless grace which He will pour out 
upon the child of His love, as the endless years open out new 
wonders of advancing intimacy ; and lo ! the channel by 

C 2 

2O The Religion of the Incarnation. 

which alone the gifts can reach him, is choked and closed? 
Faith is the son's receptivity : it is that temper of trust, which 
makes the entry of succours possible : it is the medium of 
response : it is the attitude of adherence to the Father, by 
virtue of which communications can pass. If faith goes, all 
further action of God upon the soul, all fresh arrival of power, 
is made impossible. The channel of intercourse is blocked. 

The demand, then, for faith by God is bound to be exacting, 
and urgent, and universal. But, then, this demand holds in 
reserve a ground of hope, of patience, of tolerance, of charity, 
which we can, in no single instance, venture to limit. For 
the faith, which it rigorously asks for, reposes, as we see, on 
an inner and essential relationship, already existent, which 
knits man to his God. Not even the Fall, with all its con- 
sequent accumulations of sin, can avail to wholly undo this 
primitive condition of existence. The fatherhood of God still 
sustains its erring children ; the divine image is blurred, but 
not blotted out. Still, at the close of the long days, our Lord 
can speak to the wondering men who flock about Him, of One 
Who is even now their Father in Heaven. This objective 
and imperishable relationship, the underlying ground of all 
our being, is the pre- supposition of all faith, without which it 
would itself be impossible. And, this being so, God can afford 
to wait very long for faith to show itself. So long as its 
primary condition .is there, there is always hope. The strin- 
gent demand is not inspired by the mind of a lawgiver, nor 
pressed home with the austerity of a judge ; it expresses the 
hunger of a father's heart, to win the confidence and to evoke 
the capacities of the children of its love. Such a hunger is, 
indeed, more rigorous and exact than the letter of any law : 
it aspires after a more accurate correspondence ; it is sensitive 
to more delicate distinctions : but, nevertheless, it holds, in 
its fatherliness, far wider capacities of toleration than law- 
giver, or judge. That same heart of the father, which in its 
hunger of love is so exacting, will, out of the same hunger, 
never despair, and never forsake : it will never cease from 
the pursuit of that responsive trust which it desires ; it 
will make allowances, it will permit delays, it will weave 

i. Faith. 2 1 

excuses, it will endure rebuffs, it will condescend to per- 
suasion, it will forget all provocations, it will wait, it will 
plead, it will repeat its pleas, it will take no refusal, it will 
overleap all obstacles, it will run risks, it will endlessly and 
untiringly forgive, if only, at the last, the stubborn child- 
heart yield, and the tender response of faith be won. 

Here, then, w T e seem to see why the nature of faith allows 
for two points which surprise us in God's dealings, as if with 
a contradiction. On the one hand, we hear Him, though pro- 
phet and priest, insisting, with severe precision, on the neces- 
sity of a right and accurate faith. On the other, we cannot 
but recognise, in the open area of actual life, the evidences of 
a wide and almost boundless toleration. Again and again it 
must have seemed to us that the Church and the world gave, 
thus, antithetical evidence of God's character. Yet, in truth, 
both speak the voice of one and the same God, Who, in His 
undivided love, both passionately seeks for the delicate and 
direct response of an accurate faith ; and, also, in order not 
to lose this final joy, ' suffereth long, and is kind, beareth all 
things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all 
things.' Yes ! has even to endure that men should pit His 
toleration against His love, and should argue that, because 
He will wait so long and quietly for the fruit that He desires 
to reap, therefore, He does not desire the fruit. In reality, 
the degree of the toleration, with which God will patiently 
wait for the fruits of faith, is the measure of the extremity of 
His desire for it. Just because He wants it so much, He 
w r aits so long. 

III. If faith, then, be the witness and the exercise of our 
sonship in God, we can recognise at once the place it will hold 
among the other powers and capacities of our nature. We 
are so unfortunately apt to rank it as one among many 
faculties, and then to find ourselves engaged in agitating con- 
troversies concerning its limits and its claims. We have to 
secure for it, against the rest, a field for free dominion ; and 
that field is hard to define ; and rival powers beset it ; and 
there are raids and skirmishes on every frontier ; and reason 
is ever making violent incursions on the one side, and feel- 

22 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

ing is actively besieging it on the other : and the scientific 
frontiers, which we are ever on the point of fixing, shift, 
and change, and vanish, as soon as we determine them ; and 
the whole force of Christian apologetics is spent in aimless 
and barren border- warfare. 

But, if what we have been saying be true, the whole trouble 
turns on a mistake. Faith is not to be ranked by the side 
ojLthe other faculties in a federation of rival powers, but is 
behind them all. It goes back to a deeper root ; it springs 
from a more primitive and radical act of the central self than 
they. It belongs to that original spot of our being, where it 
adheres in God, and draws on divine resources. Out from 
that spot our powers divide, radiating into separate gifts, 
will, memory, feeling, reason, imagination, affection ; but all of 
them are but varying expressions of that essential sonship, 
which is their base. And all, therefore, run back into that 
home where faith abides, and works, and rises, and expands. 
At the root of all our capacities lies our sonship ; at the root 
of all our conscious life lies faith, the witness of our sonship. 
By adherence in God, we put out our gifts, we exercise our 
functions, we develop our faculties ; and faith, therefore, far 
from being their rival, whom they are interested in suspect- 
ing, and curbing, and confining within its limits, is the secret 
spring of their force, and the inspiration of their growth, and 
the assurance of their success. All our knowledge, for in- 
stance, relies upon our sonship ; it starts with an act of faith 1 . 
We throw ourselves, with the confidence of children, upon an 
external world, which offers itself to our vision, to our touch, 
to our review, to our calculation, to our handling, to our use. 
Who can assure us of its reality, of its truth? We must 
measure it by those faculties under the manipulation of which 
it falls : but how can the faculties guarantee to us their own 
accuracy? How can we justify an extension of our own inner 
necessities to the world of outward things ? How can we at- 
tribute to nature that rational and causative existence which 
we find ourselves forced to assume in it? Our justification, 
our confidence, all issue, in the last resort, from our sonship. 
1 Cf. pp. 105-107. 

i. Faith. 23 

Our powers have, in them, some likeness to those of God. 
If He be our Father, if we be made in His image, then, in our 
measure, we can rely upon it that we close with Nature in 
its reality ; that our touch, our sight, our reason, have some 
hold on the actual life of things ; that we see and know in 
some such manner, after our degree, as God Himself sees 
and knows. In unhesitating reliance upon our true sonship, 
we sally out and deal, with the world ; we act upon the sure 
conviction that we are not altogether outside the secret of 
objective existence. We refuse absolutely to doubt, or go 
behind the reports made to us by feeling, by memory, by 
thought. If once we are clear as to what the report is, we 
rest on it ; we ask for no power to stand (as it were) outside 
our own experience, our own knowledge, so as to assure our- 
selves of their veracity. We are certain that our Father 
cannot have misguided us ; that we are within His influence ; 
that we are in modified possession of His truth; that our 
capacities reflect His mind. We could not have so confidently 
recognised, understood, and handled the world, if it had been 
wholly foreign to us. As it is, we lay instinctive hold upon 
it ; we take spontaneous possession ; we exert authority upon 
it ; we feel our inherent right over it ; we are at home in it ; 
we move freely about it, as children in a father's house. 
Acting in this faith, all our capacities justify themselves to 
us ; they respond to our reliance upon them ; they develop 
into ever advancing strength under the motions of this trust ; 
they form a continual and increasing witness to the verity of 
that sonship in which we have believed. 

Faith, then, belongs to our entire body of activities. We 
live by faith. By faith, under the inspiration of faith, we put 
out our life, we set to work, we exercise faculties, we close 
with our opportunities, we have confidence in our environ- 
ment, we respond to calls, we handle critical emergencies, we 
send out far abroad our experimental intelligence, we discover, 
we accumulate experiences, we build, and plant, and develop. 
An elemental act of faith lies at the root of all this advance ; 
and every motion that we make, demands a renewal of that 
primitive venture. In all secular progress ' we walk by faith.' 

24 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Every step revives the demand. Just as the earth, if it neces- 
sitates the idea of a primal creation, requires, by exactly the 
same necessity, an incessant renewal of that first creative 
act, so our life, if it required faith to start it, requires faith 
every moment to sustain it. Our faculties never arrive at a 
use which is self-dependent and self-originated, as if they 
could grow beyond the tentative conditions of their earliest 
assays. They originate in a venturous experiment ; and, how- 
ever long, and however complicated that experiment become, 
it retains its original character ; it remains experimental to 
the end. The results, no doubt, justify the venture made ; but, 
then, the first venture involved such immense assumptions, 
that no results reached can ever complete its justification, 
and so remove its tentative nature. For, by assuming a real 
correspondence between our faculties and the world with 
which they deal, it assumed that such a correspondence would 
never fail us ; would be capable of infinite verification ; would 
prove adequate to all possible experiences ; would receive 
indefinite and progressive extension. No verifications ever 
reached can, then, exhaust the faith of that primitive venture ; 
they can only serve to exhibit to it how far more was con- 
tained within that venture than it could ever have, conceived. 
New knowledge, new experience, far from expunging the 
elements of faith, make ever fresh demands upon it; they 
constitute perpetual appeals to it to enlarge its trust, to 
expand its original audacity. And yet the very vastness 
of those demands serves to obscure and conceal their true 
character. This is the key to much of our present bewilder- 
ment. The worlds of knowledge and of action have assumed 
such huge proportions, have accumulated such immense and 
complicated resources, have gained such supreme confidence 
in their own stability, have pushed forward their successes 
with such startling power and rapidity, that we have lost 
count of their primal assumption. In amazement at their 
stupendous range, we are over-awed ; we dare not challenge 
them with their hypothetical origin, or remind them that 
their entire and wonderful structure is but an empty and 
hollow dream, unless they are prepared to place their utter- 

I. Faith. 25 

most trust in an unverified act of faith. Given that trust, 
which relies on the reality of the bond which holds between 
our inner faculties and the outer world, then all this mar- 
vellous vision is rooted on a rock, has validity and substance. 
Withdraw that spiritual trust in our sonship, and all this 
fairy- world, won for us by science and experience, 

These cloud-capped towers, these gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 
And, like an unsubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. 

Our secular and scientific life is an immense experiment in 
faith, an experiment which verifies itself by success, but 
which justifies itself only if it remembers to attribute all its 
success to the reality of that hidden relationship to God, which 
is the key to all its capacities, the justification of all its 
confidence, and the security of all its advance. 

Such a remembrance is not easy for it : for the exercise of 
the capacities is instinctive and spontaneous, and it requires 
an effort of reflection to question the validity of such 
exercise. And such an effort seems tiresome and impertinent 
in the heat of successful progress, in the thick of crowding 
conquests. The practical man is apt to give an irritated 
stamp on the ground, which to him feels so solid, and to deem 
this a sufficient answer to the importunate inquiry how he 
knows that he has any substantial world to know and to 
handle. For faith lies behind our secular life, secreted within 
it : and the secular lift, therefore, can go on as if no faith was 
wanted ; it need not trouble its head with perplexing questions, 
whether its base be verifiable by the same standards and mea- 
sures as its superstructure. Its own practical activity is 
complete and free, whether it discover its hidden principle or 
not : just as Mr. Jourdain's conversation was complete and 
free, long before he discovered that he was talking prose. 
We have to stand outside our secular life and reflect on it, to 
disclose its true spring. The appeal to faith here is indirect. 

But, in religion, this hidden activity is evoked by a direct 
appeal : it is unearthed ; it is summoned to come forward on 
its own account. God demands of this secret and innermost 


26 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

vitality that it should no longer lie incased within the other 
capacities, but that it should throw off its sheltering covers, 
and should emerge into positive action, and should disclose its 
peculiar and native character. God, the Father, calls faith 
out of its dim background into the front of the scene. He 
does this under the pressure of invocations, which address 
their appeals through, and by means of, the secular and visible 
material, within and behind which He is ever at work. This 
had, indeed, always told of His invisible and eternal Godhead: 
but it did so indirectly, by requiring Him as its constant 
pre-supposition and base. Now, it is so used as to bring 
God into direct and positive evidence, by means of acts, which 
bring forward the energies of His immediate Fatherhood. All 
the growth of Eden had always testified to the existence and 
the name of God : but a new stage was reached when He was 
felt moving, in evening hours, amid the trees of the garden. 
And as the Father presses forward out of His silent background, 
so the secret sonship in man emerges out of its deep recesses 
in positive response, using its own secular faculties by which 
to carry itself forward into evidence and action. This definite 
and direct contact between the God Who is the hidden source 
of all life, and the faith which is the hidden spring of all 
human activity this disclosure by the Father, met by this 
discovery by the son this is Religion : and the history of 
Religion is the story of its slow and gradual advance in sanity 
and clearness, until it culminates in that special disclosure 
which we call Revelation ; which, again, crowns itself in that 
Revelation of the Father through the Son, in which the dis- 
closure of God to man and the discovery by man of God are 
made absolute in Him Who is one with the Father, knowing 
all that the Father does, making known all that the Father is. 
Now here we have reached a parting of ways. For we 
have touched the point at which the distinctions start out 
between what is secular and what is sacred between virtue 
and godliness between the world and the Church. If ' Re- 
ligion ' means this coming forward into the foreground of that 
which is the universal background of all existence, then 
we cut ourselves free from the perplexity which benumbs 

i. Faith. 2 7 

us when we hear of the ' Gospel of the Secular Life ; ' of 
the ' Religion of Humanity ; ' of doctors and scientific pro- 
fessors being ' Ministers of Religion ;' of the ' Natural Religion ' 
which is contained within the borders of science with its sense 
of wonder, or of art with its vision of beauty. All this is so 
obviously true in one sense that it sinks to the level of an 
amiable commonplace ; but if this be the sense intended, why 
is all this emphasis laid upon it 1 Yet if more than this is 
meant, we are caught in a juggling maze of words, and are 
losing hold on vital distinctions, and feel ourselves to be 


rapidly collapsing into the condition of the unhappy Ninevites, 
who knew not their right hands from their left. 

The word ' Religion,' after all, has a meaning : and we do 
not get forward by labouring to disguise from ourselves this 
awkward fact. This positive meaning allows everything that 
can be asked in the way of sanctity and worth, for nature 
and the natural life. All of it is God-given, God-inspired, 
God-directed ; all of it is holy. But the foot of this being so 
is one thing: the recognition of it is another; and it is this 
recognition of God in things which is the core and essence 
of religion. Natural life is the life in God, which has not yet 
arrived at this recognition: it is not yet, as such, religious. 
The sacred and supernatural office of man is to press through 
his own natural environment, to force his spirit through the 
thick jungle of his manifold activities and capacities, to shake 
himself free from the encompassing complexities, to step out 
clear and loose from all entanglement, to find himself, through 
and beyond all his secular experiences, face to face with a 
God, Who, on His side, is for ever pushing aside the veil which 
suggests and conceals Him, for ever disengaging Himself from 
the phenomena through which He arrives at man's con- 
sciousness, for ever brushing away the confusions, and coming 
out more and more into the open, until, through and past the 
' thunder comes a human voice ; ' and His eyes burn their way 
through into man's soul; and He calls the man by his name, and 
takes him apart, and hides him in some high and separate cleft 
of the rock, far from all the glamour and tumult of crowded 
existence, and holds him close in the hollow of His hand as 

28 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

He passes by, and names to him, with clear and memorable 
voice, the 'Name of the Lord, the Lord God, merciful, gracious, 
long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving 
iniquity, and Who will by no means clear the guilty.' Here 
is Religion. It is the arrival at the secret ; the discovery by 
the son of a Father, Who is in all His works, yet is distinct 
from them all, to be recognised, known, spoken with, loved, 
imitated, worshipped, on His own account, and for Himself 

Religion, in this sense, is perfectly distinct from what is 
secular : yet, in making this distinction, it brings no reproach : 
it pronounces nothing common or unclean. It only asks us not 
to play with words : and it reminds us that, in blurring this 
radical distinction, we are undoing all the work which it has 
been the aim of the religious movement to achieve. For the 
history of this movement is the record of the gradual advance 
man has made in disentangling ' the Name of God ' from all 
its manifestations. Religion is the effort to arrive at that 
Name, in its separable identity, in its personal and distinct 
significance. It is the fulfilment of the unceasing cry ' Tell 
me Thy name ! ' In religion we are engaged in the age-long 
task of lifting the Name, clear and high, above the clang 
and roar of its works, that through and by means of all that 
He is, we may pierce through to the very God of gods, and 
may close with Him in the blessed solitude of a love which 
knits heart to heart and spirit to spirit, without any with- 
holding interval, with no veil to hinder or intervene. 

The growth of faith, then, means the gradual increase of 
this personal contact, this spiritual intimacy between Father 
and son. To achieve this increasing apprehension of the 
Father's character and love, faith uses, as instruments and as 
channels, all its natural faculties, by which to bring itself 
forward into action, and through which to receive the com- 
munications, which arrive at it from the heart and will of 
Him, Who, on His side, uses all natural opportunities as the 
material of a speech, which is ever, as man's ear becomes 
sensitive and alert, growing more articulate, and positive, 
and personal. 

I. Faith. 29 

The entire human nature, imagination, reason, feeling, de- 
sire, becomes to faith a vehicle of intercourse, a mediating aid 
in its friendship with God. But faith itself lies deeper than 
all the capacities of which it makes use : it is, itself, the primal 
act of the elemental self, there at the root of life, where the 
being is yet whole and entire, a single personal individuality, 
unbroken and undivided. Faith, which is the germinal act of 
our love for God, is an act of the whole self, there where it 
is one, before it has parted off into what we can roughly de- 
scribe as separate and distinguishable faculties. It therefore 
uses, not one or other of the faculties, but all : and in a sense 
it uses them all at once, just as any complete motion of will, 
or of love, acts with all the united force of many combined 
faculties. A perfect act of love would combine, into a single 
movement, the entire sum of faculties, just because it proceeds 
from that basal self, which is the substance and unity of them 
all. So with faith. Faith, the act of a willing adhesion to 
God the Father, proceeds from a source deeper than the point 
at which faculties divide. 

And this has a most vital bearing on the question of faith's 
evidences. It is here we touch on the crucial characteristic 
which determines all our logical and argumentative position. 

For, if a movement of faith springs from a source anterior 
to the distinct division of faculties, then no one faculty can 
adequately account for the resultant action. Each faculty, 
in its separate stage, can account for one element, for one 
factor, which contributed to the result : and that element, that 
factor, may be of greater or less importance, according to the 
rank of the faculty in the entire self. But, if the movement 
of faith has also included and involved many other elements 
which appear, when analysed out, in the domains of the other 
faculties ; then the account which each separate faculty can 
give of the whole act, can never be more than partial. Its 
evidence must be incomplete. If the central self has gathered 
its momentum from many channels, it is obvious that the 
amount contributed by any one channel will be unable to 
justify the force exerted, or to explain the event that fol- 
lowed. If we track home each faculty employed to this 

30 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

central spring of energy, we shall see that each points to the 
result, contributes to it, suggests it ; but the result will 
always be more than the evidence, so collected, can warrant. 

This limitation, which we may allow about other faculties, 
is apt to become a stumbling-block when we apply it to the 
high gift of reason. Reason, somehow, seems to us to rise 
into some supreme and independent throne ; it reviews the 
other faculties ; and is, therefore, free from their limitations. 
We fear to hint that it has any lord over it. How can we 
assume such a lordship without dubbing ourselves irrational 
obscurantists, who in folly try to stamp out the light ? 

But we are not, in reality, dreaming of limiting reason by 
any limitations except those which it makes for itself. We 
are not violently attempting to make reason stop short at any 
point, where it could go on. We are only asking, is there 
any point at which it stops of itself, and cannot go further ? 
We propose to use reason right out, to press it to its utmost 
limit, to spur it to put forth all its powers ; and we assert that, 
so doing, reason will, at last, reveal its inability to get right 
to the end, to carry clear home. And why ? Because the self 
is not only rational but something more : it combines, with its 
unbroken, central individuality, other elements besides reason : 
and therefore, of sheer necessity, whenever that central self 
puts out an elemental act in which the integral spring of 
personal energy takes part, such as an act of will, or love, or 
faith, then, reason can be but one factor, but one element, how- 
ever important, in that issuing act : and if so, then it can give 
but a partial account of it ; its own contribution can not wholly 
explain, or justify the result. In Bishop Butler's language, 
the utmost that reason can do is to make it ' very probable.' 

The real root-question in this time-worn controversy is 
just this: is, or is not, reason the most primal and elemental 
act of the integral personality ? If it is, then, of course, it 
regulates and determines all subordinate acts. Everything 
must finally submit to its arbitration : for everything, if 
tracked back far enough, must terminate in an act of reason. 

But if, as Christianity asserts, the ultimate and elemental 
self be a moral will, that can believe, and love, then, though 

I. Faith. 3 1 

this self contains in it reason, it also goes back behind reason. 
Reason is indeed one of its essential elements, but it is not 
its entire essence, for this includes within itself, that which 
appears as feeling, and desire, and imagination, and choice, 
and passion, as well as that which shows itself as reason. When, 
therefore, the self puts out its primitive power, it will do 
actions which satisfy reason, indeed, but which reason cannot 
exhaustively analyse, or interpret, since the entire force of 
reason, if it were all brought into action, would still be only 
a partial contribution to the effect. 

As a fact, we all of us are perfectly familiar with this limi- 
tation, in affairs of affection and friendship. We never have 
here that paralysing awe of reason, which haunts us in 
matters of religion. We never allow ourselves to be bullied 
into submission to its supremacy. W T e should laugh at it, if 
it attempted to dictate to us ; or to account for all our motives. 
Not that we are at war with it : or are shirking it : or are 
afraid of it. We can have affections and friendships, which 
have every possible justification which reason can offer. 
Every conceivable expediency can unite to authorise and 
approve them. Every interest may be served by them. They 
may stand every test which a cool common-sense, or a calm 
impartial judgment, or an acute calculation of consequences 
can apply to them. They may be the very embodiment of 
reason. And yet, by no amount of calculated expediencies, 
by no pressure of rational considerations, could we dream, for 
one moment, that our friendship was accounted for. If ever 
it could trace its origin to these motives, it would cease to be 
what we thought it. The discovery would destroy it. All 
possible considerations and calculations might have been 
present, and yet they would be utterly powerless to create 
in us the love. And the love, however gladly it may recognise 
the approving considerations, would repudiate, with amaze- 
ment, and with laughter, any presumption on their part to 
say, ' this is why you love.' 

It is the same with all primal acts of heroism. They may be 
absolutely rational : yet, they would cease to be heroic, they 
would never be done, if they did not call upon a force, which, 

32 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

indeed, may determine its direction by reason, but which uses 
quite other motives to induce itself to act. Utilitarianism, 
which attempts to account for such heroic momentum by 
purely rational considerations, finds itself reduced to shifts 
which all those can see through, who refuse to be juggled 
out of their own experiences. It is the same with all 
the higher forms of moral energy. All of them go beyond 
their evidences. They all lift the rational motives, which 
suggest and determine the direction of their activity, by 
an impulsive force, which has in it the power of initiative, 
of origination. Every high act of will is a new creation. 
As the gunpowder sleeps, until the spark alights upon it, so the 
directions of reason remain below the level of action, until the 
jet of a living will fuses its fire with their material. The act 
which results may, indeed, be capable of complete interpreta- 
tion on reasonable grounds : it may be able to show reasons 
which account for every fragment of it : yet, still, the living 
force which drew together, and combined all those separate 
reasons into a single resultant act, has a creative and original 
character. The series of reasons, however complete, cannot 
account for the result, for they cannot possibly account for 
their own combination: and without this combination of 
their momentum the result would not be there. 

It is well to recall briefly this character of the moral will, 
the affections, the love, of man. For these are faith's nearest 
and dearest allies. It is here, in these elemental motions, that 
faith finds its closest parallel. It is something very like an 
act of will, a movement of love, an heroic and chivalrous 
moral venture. And whenever we desire to understand its 
relations to reason, we must persistently recall the attitude 
towards reason taken by these fundamental forms of energy ; 
only remembering that faith is yet more elemental, yet more 
completely the act of the central integral self, even than 
these. Where they leave reason behind, it will do so yet 
further. Where they call upon something deeper, and more 
primitive than reason, it will do the same, and yet more 
triumphantly. It is not that either it or they are without 
reason : or that they stand outside reason, consulting it so far 

i. Faith. 33 

as they choose, and then dropping it ; it is not that reason 
rnay not be found in every corner and fragment of their 
activity, pervading, colouring, restraining, limiting, directing, 
justifying it : but simply that what we call the rational self is 
not only rational, but also something more : that, if analysed 
out, the reason will not appear as the root and core of 
the man, but rather as an element inhering in a yet more 
central base: and that whenever the energy of vital action 
is put out, we are driven to look through and beyond reason, 
if we would unearth the source whence the act springs. 

The relation, then, of reason to faith is not strange, or forced, 
or unfamiliar to us, if it is much the same as its relation to the 
affections, or to moral acts and intuitions. We know what to 
expect, what part it ought to play in such a case. As in a case 
of heroic moral daring, or high affection, so, in a matter of faith, 
we shall expect that reason, with its arguments and its 
evidences, will play all round and about it, will go before it, 
discussing the path to follow, will follow after it, unravelling 
the secret forces at work in it : will watch, and analyse, and 
learn, and warn ; will reconnoitre, and examine, and survey, 
and discover: will justify, interpret, defend, assist. But yet 
we shall expect, also, that the act of faith will do more than 
all the arguments can anticipate : that it will hold itself free 
from them all : that it will appeal, not to them, but to its 
own inherent force, for the final decision : that it will move 
by instinct, by spontaneity, by inspiration : that it will rush 
past all evidences, in some great stride ; that it will brush 
through scruples that cannot be gainsaid, and obstacles that 
cannot be got over ; that it will surprise, that it will outdo, 
that it will create ; that it will bring novel forces into play, 
invisible, unaccountable, incalculable ; that it will fly, when 
reason walks ; that it will laugh, when reason trembles : that 
it will over-leap barriers which reason deems final. As with 
love, so with faith, it will take in all evidences, it will listen 
to all proofs ; but when they have done their utmost, it has 
yet got to begin ; it itself, after all its calculations, must make 
the actual spring, which is the decision. Out of itself, it draws 
its strength : out of itself it makes its effort ; by being what it is, 

34 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

it sees what it sees, it does what it does. It uses the evidence ; 
but uses it to leap from, to go further. Its motives, advances, 
efforts, issue from within itself. Just as the lover's final answer 
to the question, ' why did you do that ? ' must be, ' because I loved ' ; 
so the final answer of the believer, in explanation of an act, 
can never be wrung out of the reasonable grounds for so acting ; 
it must always be ' because I believed.' Just as man first 
acts, and speaks, and reason, following behind, can at last 
discover that his actions were all consecutive, and that his 
language has a perfect grammar : so faith has always to make 
its venture, prompted and inspired from within, and only long 
afterwards can it expect to learn that if it has been true to 
itself, to its proper promptings, then its action can, by slow 
and plodding reason, be thoroughly interpreted and justified. 
Faith is, above all things, anticipatory. The sonship, within, 
anticipates what the Father has in store for it : by means of 
affection, by rapid instincts of love, it assumes what it cannot 
yet verify, it foretells the secrets that lie hidden within the 
Father's eyes. So anticipating, it 'makes its venture; a ven- 
ture which love alone can understand and justify, though the 
faithfulness of the eternal and supreme Father ensures that 
the anticipation shall receive its full verification. 

If this be the relation of faith to i*eason, we see the expla- 
nation of what seems, at first sight, to the philosopher, to be 
the most irritating and hypocritical characteristic of faith. 
It is always shifting its intellectual defences. It adopts this 
or that fashion of philosophical apology; and then, when 
this is shattered by some novel scientific generalisation, faith, 
probably after a passionate struggle to retain the old position, 
suddenly and gaily abandons it, and takes up with the new 
formula, just as if nothing had happened: it discovers that 
the new formula is admirably adapted for its purposes, and 
is, in fact, just what it always meant, only it has unfortun- 
ately omitted to mention it. So it goes on, again and again ; 
and no wonder that the philosophers growl at those humbugs, 
the clergy ! 

But they are criticising faith as if it were a theory, as if 
knowledge were its province, while, in truth, the seat of faith 

i. Faith. 3 5 

lies back behind the region of knowledge. Its radical acts and 
motives are independent of any particular condition of thought 
or science : they are deeper recessed ; they exist in their own 
right, and under their own conditions. True, they may not be 
able to express themselves, to get their energies forward, to set 
themselves free, to manifest themselves, except through the 
mediation of knowledge, through the instruments and chan- 
nels which the science of the day provides them. But this 
does not confuse their inherent and distinct character. They 
never identify themselves with the tools they use. They sit 
quite loose to the particular state of thought, the formula, the 
terms, through which they make their way out into action. 
And, moreover, since the acts of faith are more radical than 
those of reason, and since they belong to the entire man 
acting in his integrity, they therefore of necessity anticipate, 
in their degree, all that the man, by slow development, by 
the patient industry of reasoning, will laboriously disclose. 
Lying deeper than all knowledge, they hold in them the con- 
dition under which all knowledge will be arrived at. They 
constitute the activity which ought to be at the background 
of all our reasoning. No particular or partial state of know- 
ledge can exhaust their significance. Each step knowledge 
makes does but illustrate, in some new fashion, the relation 
of all knowledge to faith does but elucidate the character- 
istics of that primal sonship. In each fresh discovery or 
generalisation, faith finds a new instrument for expressing its 
old convictions; it is taught to see the weak points, the 
imperfections of its former expressions ; it understands where 
they hold good, and where they failed ; it gets out more of 
itself than ever before, through the new channels opened to 
it ; it discovers more of its own character by finding better 
modes in which to manifest it. It does but half know itself, 
so long as its expression is encumbered. 

The advance of secular knowledge, then, is for faith, an 
acquired gain : for by it, it knows itself better ; it sees more 
of what was involved in its vital convictions. It has a 
struggle, no doubt, in dropping oif the expressions that have 
grown familiar to it, and in detecting the fresh insight into 

D 3 

36 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

its own nature which it can win by the new terminology: 
but when once it has mastered the terms, new lights break 
out upon it, new suggestions flash, new capacities disclose 
themselves. It has won a new tool: when it has become 
familiarised with the use of it, it can do great and unexpected 
things with it. 

But, for all that, it is but a new tool, worked by the old 
convictions; they have not changed, any more than love 
changes, though the slow development of married life may 
carry the lovers into unknown experiences, in foreign lands, 
under changed skies. The two, if they be faithful, learn far 
more of what the love they plighted means, as each sweeping 
revolution carries them hither and thither, than ever they 
understood on the wedding day ; yet it is ever the old love 
then pledged, which they hold fast to the end. Its identity 
is emphasised by the changes. So with faith. It may absorb 
its energies in the joy of wielding the particular instrument 
with which, at any one moment, science supplies it. But it 
will never the least fear to drop it, so soon as the advancing 
skill and the pushing minds of men have elaborated for it 
some yet more delicate and subtle tool, wherewith to give free 
play to its native vitalities. 

For faith is moved by but one solitary passion the hope 
of cleaving, closer and ever closer, to the being of God. It 
is, itself, nothing but this act of personal adherence, of per- 
sonal cohesion ; and all else is, for it, material that can be 
subdued to this single service. Each bettering of knowledge 
intensifies the possibilities of this cohesion ; and, for that, it 
is welcomed. It opens out fresh aspects of the good Father : 
it uncovers new treasures of His wisdom : therefore, for faith, 
it is an ever-mounting ladder, by which it draws nearer and 
nearer, spirit to spirit, heart to heart. No idle or indifferent 
matter this ; and right knowledge, therefore, is for faith, a 
serious and pressing need. And, moreover, faith is pledged 
to use all possible guidance and direction in making its great 
act of self-surrender to God. And it is the peculiar office 
of reason, and of the rational conscience, to guard it from 
any distorted and unworthy venture. Faith has to make its 

i. Faith. 37 

leap ; but to make it exactly in that direction, and in no 
other, where reason points the way. It is bound therefore - 
to use all its intelligent resources : it may not fall below the 
level of its highest reason without the risk of sinking to a 
superstition. This is the radical difference between what we 
here claim, and that which a superstition demands of us. A 
superstition asks faith to shut its eyes. We ask it to open 
them as wide as it can. We demand this of it as a positive 
duty. It is bound, as an act of the whole man, to use every 
conceivable means and security which knowledge can bring it. 
For so alone can it secure itself against the hazards which 
encompass its adventure. It cannot afford to enter on that 
venturous committal of itself less equipped and instructed 
than it was open to it to be. It must put all to use that can 
better its offer of itself to God. 

It is, in this seriousness, that faith is apt to embrace so fast 
the dominant scientific or philosophical creed. It has found, 
through this creed, a new and thrilling insight into God's 
mind, and it fastens on this precious gift ; and dwells delight- 
edly on it, and spends itself in absorbing the peculiar truths 
which this particular way of thinking brings to the front. 
So that, at last, when the smash comes, when the floods break 
in, when the accumulation of new facts outside the old lines 
necessitates a total reconstruction of the intellectual fabric, 
faith seems to have gone under with the ruined scheme to 
which it had attached itself so firmly. 

Yet, if ever it has implicated its own fate with that of any 
particular form of knowledge, it has been false to itself. It 
has no more right to identify itself with any intellectual 
situation than it has to pin its fortunes to those of any 
political dynasty. Its eternal task lies in rapid readjustment 
to each fresh situation, which the motion of time may disclose 
to it. It has that in it which can apply to all, and learn from 
all. Its identity is not lost, because its expressions vary and 
shift : for its identity lies deep in personality ; and per- 
sonality is that which testifies to its own identity by the 
variety and the rapidity of its self-adaptation to the changes 
of circumstance. So with faith. Its older interpretations of 

38 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

itself are not false, because the newer situations have called 
for different manifestations. Each situation forces a new 
aspect to the front. But ever it is God and the soul, which 
recognise each other under every disguise. Now it is in one 
fashion and now in another: but it is always one unalter- 
able wisdom which is justified, recognised, and loved, by 
those who are her children. 

We will not, then, be the least afraid of the taunt, that we 
are all accepting and delivering from our pulpits that which 
once threw us into anger and dismay. Only let us learn 
our true lesson ; and, in our zeal to appreciate the wonders 
of Evolution, let us hold ourselves prepared for the day which 
is bound to come, when again the gathering facts will clamour 
for a fresh generalisation : and the wheel will give one more 
turn ; and the new man will catch sight of the vision which is 
preparing ; and the new book will startle ; and the new band 
of youthful professors will denounce and demolish our present 
heroes ; and all the reviews and magazines will yelp in chorus 
at their heels, proclaiming loudly that now, at last and for 
ever, the faith, which has pledged itself so deeply to the 
obsolete and discredited theory of Evolution, is indeed dead 
and done with. Faith will survive that crisis, as it has sur- 
vived so many before : but it will be something, if it does not 
drag behind it the evil record of passion, and blindness, with 
which it has too often disgraced its unwilling passage from 
truth to truth. 

IV. But here our objections take, perhaps, a new turn 
altogether. ' Ah, yes ! ' it will be said ; ' faith, if it were a 
simple surrender of the soul to God, a childlike adhesion 
of the spiritual sonship in us to its Father, Who is in 
heaven, might sit loose to all formulae, theories, discoveries, 
in the way described. Faith, if it limited itself to this mys- 
tical communion, might be beyond the scope and criticism of 
reason. But this is not the least what you really ask of us. 
The faith, for which you practically plead, the only form of 
faith actually open to us, has rashly left these safe confines : it 
has implicated itself with a vast body of facts recorded in a 
book. It has involved itself in intricate statements of dogma. 

i. Faith. 39 

How can you claim to be free from the control of logic and 
criticism, in things so directly open to logical treatment 1 ? 
This spiritual faith of yours has mixed itself up with alien 
matter, with historical incidents, with intellectual definitions : 
here are things of evidence and proof. Here its locks are 
shorn ; its mystic strength is gone. Delilah holds it fast ; it 
is a prisoner in the hands of the Philistines. If you will 
retreat again back into the region of simple spiritual in- 
tuitions, and abandon to reason this debatable land, how 
gladly would we follow you ! But that is just what you refuse 
to do.' 

Now, here is the serious moment for us of to-day. It is quite 
true that all would be plain and easy, if we might be allowed 
to make this retreat if we might limit our claims for the 
spirit to that simple childlike intuition which, instinctively, 
feels after, and surrenders to, the good Father in heaven. 
But what would that retreat mean? It would mean an 
attempt, desperate and blind, to turn back the world's story, 
to ignore the facts, to over-leap the distinctions of time and 
place, to deny experience, to force ourselves back into pri- 
mitive days, to imagine ourselves children again. Simple 
intuitions of God, simple communion with the Father, un- 
questioned, undistracted, this is the privilege of primitive 
days, when minds are simple, when experience is simple, when 
society is simple. Plain, easy, and direct situations admit of 
plain, easy, and direct handling. But our situation is not 
plain, easy, or direct. Our minds are intricate and com- 
plicated ; our story has been a long and a difficult one ; our 
social condition is the perplexed deposit of age-long expe- 
riences. The faith, which is to be ours to-day, must be a 
faith of to-day. It cannot remain at the level of childhood, 
when nothing else in us or about us is the least childlike. 
It cannot babble out in pretty baby-language, when the 
situation with which it has to deal is terribly earnest, serious, 
perilous, and intense. It must be level with its work ; and 
its work is complicated, hard, disciplined : how can it expect 
to accomplish it without effort, without pain, without train- 
ing, without intricacy 1 The world is old ; human life is old ; 

4O The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and faith is old also. It has had many a strange and stormy 
experience ; it has learned much on the way ; it has about it 
the marks of old troubles ; the care, the patience, the com- 
pleteness of age, have left their stamp upon it. It has had a 
history, like everything else; and it reaches us to-day, in 
a form which that history behind it can alone make intel- 
ligible. Four thousand years have gone to its making since 
Abraham first laid hold, in a definite and consistent manner, 
of the faith which is ours to-day. All those centuries it has 
been putting itself together, growing, enriching itself, de- 
veloping, as it faced and measured each new issue, each 
gathering complication, each pressing hazard. This long ex- 
perience has built up faith's history : and, by study of that 
history, we can know why it was that faith could not stand 
still at that point where we should find it so convenient to 
rest. Faith appeals to its own story to justify its career ; 
it bears about that history with it as its explanation, why, 
and how it has arrived at its present condition. That 
history is its proof how far it has left its first childhood 
behind it, how impossible it is, at the end of the days, to 
return to the beginning. The history, which constitutes 
our difficulty, is its own answer. For there, in that Bible, 
lies the recorded story of the facts which pressed hard 
upon the earliest intuition of God, and drove it forward, 
and compelled it to fix itself, and to define itself, and to 
take a firmer root, and to make for itself a secure dwelling- 
place, and to shape for itself a career. The Bible is the 
apology which our faith carries with it, and offers as a proof 
of the necessity which has forced it to go beyond its primitive 
efforts, until it has reached the stage at which we now en- 
counter it. It portrays there, before our eyes, how it all 
began ; how there came to this man and to that, the simple 
augury, the presage, the spasm of spiritual insight, the flash, 
the glimpse, the intimation ; until there came the man, 
Abraham, in whom it won the emphasis, the solidity, the 
power, of a call. ' Oh ! that we might be content to feel, as 
he, the presence of the Everlasting ! Why not leave us in 
peace, we cry, with the simple faith of Abraham ? ' And the 

i. Faith. 4 1 

answer is plain : ' because it is the nineteenth century after 
Christ, instead of the nineteenth century before.' We are 
making a mistake of dates. Let us turn to our Bible and read. 
There we watch the reasons disclosing themselves why that 
simple faith could not abide in arrest at its first moment ; why 
it must open a new career, with new duties, and new respon- 
sibilities, and new problems. The seed is sown, but it has to 
grow ; to make good its footing amid the thick of human 
affairs ; to root itself in the soil of human history ; to spread 
itself out in institutions ; to push its dominion ; to widen its 
range ; to become a tree that will fill the land. Before 
Abraham, it was but a flying seed, blown by the winds ; now, 
it is a stable, continuous, masterful growth. It must be this, 
if it is ever to make effective its spiritual assertions over the 
increasing intricacy of human affairs. 

What, let us ask, is that life of faith which historically began 
with Abraham ? It is a friendship, an intimacy, between man 
and God, between a son and a father. Such an intimacy cannot 
be idle or stagnant; it cannot arrest its instinctive development. 
It holds in it infinite possibilities of growth : of increasing 
familiarity, of multiplied communion. And, thus, such a friend- 
ship creates a story of its own ; it has its jars, its frictions, its 
entanglements ; alas ! on one side, its lapses, its quarrels, its 
blunders, its misunderstandings : and then, on the other, its 
corresponding indignations, and withdrawals, and rebukes ; 
and yet again, its reconciliations, its reactions, its pardons, its 
victories. Ever it moves forward on its chequered path : ever 
God, the good Friend, spends Himself in recovering the inti- 
macy, in renewing it, in purging it, in raising it. Its condi- 
tions expand : its demands intensify : its perils deepen : its 
glories gather : until it consummates its effort in the per- 
fected communion of God and man in Him, Who completes 
and closes the story of this ever-growing intimacy, by that 
act of supreme condescension which brings down God to 
inhabit and possess the heart of man : and by that act of 
supreme exaltation, which uplifts man into absolute union 
with the God Who made him. 

This is the story: the Bible is its record. As a body of 

42 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

incidents and facts it must be subject to all the conditions of 
history and the laws of evidence ; as a written record it 
introduces a swarm of questions, which can be sifted and 
decided by rational criticism. This entails complications, it 
must be confessed ; but they are inevitable. The intimacy 
between man and God cannot advance, except through the 
pressure of connected and recorded experience. A human 
society which has no record of its past is robbed of its future. 
It is savage : it cannot go forward, because it cannot look 
back. So with this divine friendship. Its recorded experi- 
ences are the one condition of its growth. Without them it 
must always be beginning afresh : it must remain imprisoned 
at the starting-post. The length and complexity of its record 
is the measure of its progress ; even though they must pre- 
sent, at the same time, a larger surface to the handling of 
criticism, and may involve a deeper degree of obscurity in 

And, after all, though details drawn out of a dead past 
permit obscurity, the nature and character of the main issue 
become ever more fixed and distinct, as the long roll of 
circumstances discloses its richer secrets. The very shift 
and confusion of the surface-material throws out, in emphatic 
contrast, the firm outlines of the gathering and growing 
mystery. Ever the advance proceeds, throwing off all that 
is accidental, immaterial, subservient : ever man becomes 
clearer in his recognition of the claims made on him by 
the hope which God keeps ever before Him, ' They shall 
be my people : I will be their God.' Ever the necessities 
of such an intimate affection point to the coming of the 
Christ. Christ is the end, the sum, the completion, of this 
historic friendship : and His advent is, therefore, absolutely 
unintelligible unless it is held in relation to the long expe- 
rience, which He interprets, justifies, and fulfils. Faith in 
Christ is the last result, the ultimate and perfected condition 
of that faith of Abraham, which enabled him to become the 
first friend of God. And the immense experience that lay 
between Abraham and St. Paul, can alone bridge the interval, 
can alone exhibit the slow and laborious evolution, through 

i. Faith. 43 

which the primitive apprehension of God was transformed into 
the Christian Creed that mighty transformation, spread out 
over two thousand years of varied history, which our Lord 
summed up in the lightning-flash, ' Your father Abraham 
rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.' The 
Book is the record of those tested and certified experi- 
ments, which justified our Lord in asserting that to believe in 
God was, necessarily, to believe in Him. No one can under- 
stand that assertion, unless by seeing it worked out, in detail, 
by the searching logic of experience. 

Faith in Christ, then, includes faith in the Bible : and, in 
saying that, we have already cleared away much of the diffi- 
culty that beset us, For our faith in Christ becomes the 
measure and standard of our faith in the Bible. We believe 
in it as the record of our growing intimacy with God. Faith 
is, still, a spiritual cohesion of person with person, of the 
living soul with a living God. No details that intervene 
confuse this primitive relation. Only, that cohesion was not 
reached at one leap. It is ancient : it has traversed many inci- 
dents and trials : it has learned much : it has undergone patient 
apprenticeship : it has been bonded by the memory of multi- 
tudinous vicissitudes. Like all else that is human, it has grown. 
The details of events are the media of that growth. In that 
character they are vitally essential to the formed intimacy : 
but in that character alone. They are not valued for their 
own sake ; but for the cause which they served. Belief in 
God never changes its character, and becomes belief in facts : 
it only developes into a deeper and deeper belief in God, as 
disciplined by facts. The facts must be real, if the discipline 
is to be real : but, apart from this necessity, we are indifferent 
to them. We can listen to anything which historical criticism 
has to tell us, of dates and authorship ; of time and place. It 
may supply all the gaps in our record, showing how the 
material there briefly gathered, had, itself, a story, and slowly 
came together, and had sources and associations elsewhere. 
All such research adds interest to the record, as it opens out 
to us the action of the Divine Intimacy, in lajdng hold of its 
material. We watch it, by the aid of such criticism, at its 

44 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

work of assimilation ; and, in uncovering its principles of 
selection, we apprehend its inner mind : we draw closer to our 
God. The more nearly we can ally the early conditions of 
Israel to those of Arabian nomads, the more delicate and rare 
becomes our apprehension of that divine relationship, which, 
by its perpetual pressure, lifted Israel to its marvellous 
supremacy, and which, by its absence, left the Arabian to 
be what he is to-day. 

The point at which criticism must hold off its hands is, 
of course, a most subtle matter to decide. But we can, at 
least, be sure of this that such a point will be no arbitrary 
one ; it will be there, where criticism attempts to trench on 
the reality and the uniqueness of the Divine Intimacy, which 
those incidents served to fashion, and those books detected and 
recorded, and Christ consummated. Our faith in Christ must 
determine what, in the Bible, is vital to its own veracity. 
There is no other measure or rule of what we mean by in- 

The preparation for Christ, then, necessitates such com- 
plications as these. And the character of His advent in- 
tensified and thickened them. For, while asking of us the 
purest form of spiritual adherence, He makes that demand 
in a shape which is imbedded throughout in concrete his- 
torical facts, which, as facts, must be subject to the thumb 
of critical discussion, and to all the external handling of 
evidence and argument. 

And, then, on the top of this, He has, of necessity, raised 
the question of His own Personality to such a pitch of vital 
value, that the full force of man's intellectual activities is 
drawn towards its consideration, is summoned to contem- 
plate, and measure, and apprehend it, is compelled to examine 
and face its tremendous issues. The supreme act of personal 
surrender, for which Christ unhesitatingly asks, cannot con- 
ceivably pass beyond its child-stage without forming a direct 
and urgent challenge to the intellect to say how, and why, such 
an act can be justified, or such a claim interpreted. No faith 
can reach to such an absolute condition without finding itself 
involved in anxieties, perils, problems, complications. Its very 

i. Faith. 45 

absoluteness is a provocation to the questioning and disputing 
mind, to the hesitating and scrupulous will. And the result, 
the inevitable result, of such a faith proposed, as it was, to 
a world no longer young and childlike, but matured, old, 
thoughtful, experienced is the Dogmatic Creeds. We clamour 
against these intellectual complications : we cry out for the 
simple primitive faith. But, once again, it is a mistake of 
dates. We cannot ask to be as if eighteen centuries had 
dropped out, unnoticed as if the mind had slumbered since 
the days of Christ, and had never asked a question. We can- 
not hope to be in the same condition after a question has 
been asked, as we were before it had ever occurred to us to 
ask it. The Creeds only record that certain questions have, 
as a fact, been asked. Could our world be what it is, and not 
have asked them 1 These difficulties of a complicated faith 
are only the reflection of the difficulties of a complicated life. 
If, as a fact, we are engaged in living a life which is intricate, 
subtle, anxious, then any faith which hopes to cover and embrace 
that life, cannot escape the necessity of being intricate, subtle, 
and anxious also. No child's creed can satisfy a man's needs, 
hunger, hopes, anxieties. If we are asked to throw over the 
complications of our Creeds, we must beg those that ask us, to 
begin by throwing over the complications of this social and 
moral life. 

But still, with the Creeds as with the Bible, it is the per- 
sonal intimacy with God in Christ which alone is our con- 
cern. We do not, in the strict sense, believe in the Bible, 
or in the Creeds : we believe solely and absolutely in Christ 
Jesus. Faith is our living act of adherence in Him, of cohe- 
sion with God. But still, once more, we must recognise 
that this act of adhesion has a history : it has gradually 
been trained and perfected : and this has been accomplished 
through the long and perilous experiences recorded in the 
Old Testament ; and it has been consummated in the final 
sealing of the perfected intimacy attained in Him, in Whose 
person it was realised and made possible for us : and it has 
been guarded and secured to us in the face of the over- 
whelming pressure of eighteen strong, stormy, and distracted 

46 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

centuries. And therefore it is that we now must attain our 
cohesion with God, subject to all the necessities laid upon us 
by the fact that we enter on the world's stage at a late hour, 
when the drama has already developed its plot and compli- 
cated its situations. This is why we cannot now, in full view 
of the facts, believe in Christ, without finding that our belief 
includes the Bible and the Creeds. 

V. Faith is, still and always, a spiritual intimacy, a living 
friendship with God. That is what we must be for ever 
asserting. That is the key to all our problems ; and once sure 
of this in all its bearings, we shall not be afraid of a taunt 
which is apt to sting especially those of us who are ordained. 
It is conveyed, in its noblest form, in a book of Mr. John 
Morley's, on Compromise. No one can read that book without 
being the better or the worse for it. The intense force of high 
moral convictions acts upon us like a judgment. It evokes the 
deepest conscience in us to come forward, and stand at that 
austere bar and justify itself, or, in failing to justify itself, 
sink condemned. And in that book he asks the old question, 
with unequalled power: how can it possibly be honest for 
men to sign away their reason at the age of twenty-three ? 
to commit themselves to conclusions which they cannot have 
mastered to anticipate beforehand all that experience may 
have to teach ? In committing themselves to positions which 
any new knowledge or discovery may reverse, they have for- 
bidden themselves the free use of their critical faculties : they 
have resigned their intellectual conscience. 

What do we answer to that severe arraignment 1 Surely 
we now know well. Faith is an affair of personal intimacy, 
of friendship, of will, of love : and, in all such cases, we should 
know exactly what to do with language of this type. We 
should laugh it out of court. For it is language which does 
not belong to this region. It is the language, it expresses 
the temper, of the scientific student a temper, an attitude 
specialised for a distinct purpose. That purpose is one of 
gradual advance into regions as yet untouched and unsus- 
pected an advance which is for ever changing the relations 
and classifications of those already partially known. The 

i. Faith. 47 

temper essential to such a purpose must be prepared for 
discovery, for development, for the unexpected ; it is bound to 
be tentative, experimental, hypothetical to be cool, critical, 
corrective. It deals with impersonal matter ; and it must 
itself, therefore, be as far as possible impersonal, abstract, 
non-moral, without passion, without individuality, without 
a private intention, or will, or fixed opinion. 

But such a temper, perfectly justified for scientific purposes, 
is absolutely impotent and barren in matters of moral feeling 
and practice. 

The man who brings this temper into play in affairs of the 
will, or the heart, or the imagination, in cases of affection, 
friendship, passion, inspiration, generosity, in the things of 
home, of war, of patriotism, of love, is in the wrong world : 
he is a living blunder : he has no cue, no key, no interpretation. 
He is simply absurd. 

And religion stands with these affairs. Just as we see well 
enough that if love were approached in this scientific spirit, it 
could not even begin, so it is quite as certain that, if faith were 
approached in this spirit, it could not even begin. 

Mr. Moiiey has mixed up two different w T orlds. He is 
criticising that form of knowledge, which consists in spiritual 
apprehension of another's personality through the whole force 
of a man's inherent, and integral, and personal, will and 
desire, by the standard of another form of knowledge altogether, 
which consists in gradual and experimental assimilation of 
foreign and unknown matter through specialised organs of 
critical observation. 

This latter knowledge is bound to be as far as possible 
emptied of personal elements. But our knowledge is nothing 
if not personal : it is the knowledge which issues, and issues 
only, out of the personal contact of life with life. And 
this is why it can afford to anticipate the future. For 
a person is a consistent and integral whole: if you know 
it at any one point, you know it in a sense at all points. 
The one character, the one will, disclose themselves through 
every partial expression, and passing gesture, and varying act. 
Therefore it is that, when two personalities draw towards one 

48 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

another in the touch of love, they can afford to plight their 
word. For love is the instinctive prophecy of a future ad- 
herence. It is the assurance, passing from soul to soul, that no 
new discovery of what is involved in their after-life together 
can ever deny, or defeat, or destroy their present mutual 
coherence in each other. That adhesion, that adaptability, 
which has been proved at a few points, will necessarily be 
justified throughout. The marriage-pledge expresses the ab- 
solute conviction that the present experience is irreversible, 
except by wilful sin. Whatever novelties the years bring 
with them, those two characters will abide what they are 
to-day. Growth cannot radically alter them. 

Love, then, is this confident anticipation, which takes the 
future in pledge. And where this anticipation breaks down, 
it must be through human infirmity, wrong, misunder- 

And our knowledge of Christ is this knowledge of love ; 
wherever it exists, and so far as it exists, it issues out of 
personal contact, personal inter-action. This is why, in its 
tested and certified form, i. e. in the accumulated and historic 
experience of the Catholic community, it can rationally justify 
its anticipation of an unbroken adherence. 

And it can do so with complete confidence, because, here, on 
the side of Christ, there is no infirmity which can endanger 
the plighted faith : there is no lapse, no decline possible. 
Christ must be loyal, for He is sinless. And more : being 
sinless, He is consistent. Every part of Him is in harmony 
with the whole: in Him there is no unsteadiness, no in- 
security. Such a flawless character is identical with itself: 
wherever it is touched, it can be tested and approved. 

What, then, can upset our trust in Him 1 What can disturb 
our knowledge of Him ? What fear of change can the years 
bring on ? We may know but a tiny fragment, a fringe of 
this love of His to us, yet that is enough : to have felt it at 
all is to trust it for ever. We cannot hesitate to commit 
ourselves to One Who, if we know Him in any way, is known 
to be, by inward, personal, inherent necessity, the 'same 
yesterday, to-day, and for ever.' 

i. Faith. 49 

Yes ! but still it may be pleaded, that this anticipatory 
adherence, which might justifiably be given to a person 
beloved, cannot be pledged to dogmatic definitions. These, 
at any rate, are matters not of love, but of reason : they must 
be liable to critical examination, to intellectual revision. It 
is the pledge given to believe these dogmas in the future, 
which is such an outrage on intellectual morality. 

Now, this protest, forcible and obvious as it looks at first 
sight, is still guilty of confusing the criticism which belongs 
to one province of knowledge with that which belongs to 
another. These dogmas of faith do not the least correspond 
to the classifications and laws of physical science ; and for 
this reason, that the matter to which they relate is wholly 
different in kind. Dogmas represent reason in its appli- 
cation to a personal life : scientific generalisations represent 
reason as applied to matter, from which the conditions of 
personality have been rigorously and rightly excluded. The 
difference is vital ; and it affects the entire character of the 
working of reason. 

The dogmatic definitions of Christian theology can never be 
divorced from their contact in the personality of Christ. They 
are statements concerning a living character. As such, and 
only as such, do they come within the lines of faith. We do 
not, in the strict sense, believe in them : for belief is never a 
purely intellectual act ; it is a movement of the living man 
drawn towards a living person. Belief can only be in Jesus 
Christ. To Him alone do we ever commit ourselves, sur- 
render ourselves, for ever and aye. But a personality, though 
its roots lie deeper than reason, yet includes reason within 
its compass : a personality cannot but be rational, though it 
be more than merely rational ; it has in it a rational ground, 
a rational construction ; it could not be what it is without 
being of such and such a fixed and organic character. And 
a personality, therefore, is intelligible ; it lays itself open to 
rational treatment ; its characteristics can be stated in terms of 
thought. The Will of God is the Word of God ; the Life is 
also the Light. That which is loved can be apprehended ; that 
which is felt can be named. So the Personality of the Word 

50 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

admits of being rationally expressed in the sense that reason 
can name and distinguish those elements in it, which con- 
stitute its enduring and essential conditions. The dogmas 
now in question, are simply careful rehearsals of those inherent 
necessities which, inevitably, are involved in the rational 
construction of Christ's living character. They are state- 
ments of what He must be, if He is what our hearts assure 
us ; if He can do that for which our wills tender Him their 
lifelong self-surrender. Unless these rational conditions 
stand, then, no act of faith is justifiable ; unless His person- 
ality correspond to these assertions, we can never be authorised 
in worshipping Him. 

But, if so, then we can commit ourselves to these dogmas 
in the same way, and degree, as we commit ourselves to Him. 
We can do so, in the absolute assurance that He cannot but 
abide for ever, that which we know Him to be to-day. We 
know Him indeed, but ' in part : ' but it is part of a fixed and 
integral character, which is whole in every part ; and can 
never falsify, in the future, the revelation which it has already 
made of itself. 

The real question, as to Christian dogma, lies in the prior 
question Is Christianity justified in claiming to have reached 
a final position? If the position is rightly final, then the 
intellectual expression of its inherent elements is final also. 
Here is the deep contrast between it and science. The 
scientific man is forbidden, by the very nature of his studies, 
to assume finality for his propositions. For he is not yet in 
command of his material. Far, very far, from it. He is 
touching it on its very edge. He is engaged in slowly push- 
ing tentative advances into an unknown world, looming, vast, 
dim, manifold, beyond his frontier of light. The coherence of 
his known matter with that huge mass beyond his ken, can be 
but faintly imaged and suspected. Wholly unreckoned forces 
are in operation. At any moment he may be called upon to 
throw over the classification which sums up his hitherto ex- 
perience ; he may have to adopt a new centre ; to bring his facts 
into a novel focus ; and this involves at once a novel principle 
of arrangement. In such conditions dogma is, of course, an 

i. Faith. 5 1 

absurdity. But, if we are in a position to have any faith in < 
Jesus Christ, then we must suppose that we have arrived at 
the one centre to all possible experiences, the one focus, under 
which all sights must fall. To believe in Him at all is to 
believe that, by and in 'this Man, will God judge the world.' 
In His personality, in His character, we are in possession of 
the ultimate principle, under which the final estimate of all 
things will be taken. We have given us, in His sacrifice and .i-ikv- 
mission, the absolute rule, standard, test, right to the very 
end. Nothing can fall outside it. In Him, God has summed 
up creation. We have touched, in Him, the ' last days,' the 
ultimate stage of all development. We cannot believe in Him 
at all, and not believe that His message is final. 

And it is this finality which justifies dogma. If Christian- 
ity is final, it can afford to be dogmatic ; and we, who give 
our adhesion to it, must, in so doing, profess our adhesion 
to the irreversible nature of its inherent principles: for, in 
so doing, we are but re-asserting our belief in the absolute 
and final sufficiency of His person. 

Let us venture, now, to review the path that we have 
travelled, in order that we may see at what point we have 
arrived. Faith, then, is, from first to last, a spiritual act of 
the deepest personal will, proceeding out of that central core of 
the being, where the self is integral and whole, before it has 
sundered itself off into divided faculties. There, in that 
root-self, lie the germs of all that appears in the separate 
qualities and gifts in feelings, in reason, in imagination, in 
desire ; and faith, the central activity, has in it, therefore, the 
germs of all these several activities. It has in it that which 
becomes feeling, yet is not itself a feeling. It has in it that 
which becomes reason, yet is not itself the reason. It holds 
in it imaginative elements, yet is no exercise of the imagi- 
nation. It is alive with that which desires, craves, loves ; 
yet is not itself merely an appetite, a desire, a passion. 
In all these qualities it has its part : it shares their nature ; 
it has kindred motions; it shows itself, sometimes through 
the one, and sometimes through the other, according to the 
varieties of human characters. In this man, it can make the 

E a 

52 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

feeling its main instrument and channel ; in that man, it will 
find the intellect its chief minister ; in another, it will make 
its presence known along the track of his innermost craving 
for a support in will and in love. But it will always remain 
something over, and beyond, any one of its distinctive media ; 
and not one of these specialities of gift will ever, therefore, be 
able to account wholly for the faith which puts it to use. 
That is why faith must always remain beyond its realised 
evidences. If it finds, in some cases, its chief evidences in the 
region of feeling, it is nevertheless open to deadly ruin, if 
ever it identifies itself with these evidences, as if it could rely 
on them to carry it through. It may come into being by 
their help ; but it is never genuine faith, until it can abide 
in self-security at those dry hours, when the evidences of 
positive feeling have been totally withdrawn. And as with 
feeling ; so with reason. Faith looks to reason for its proofs : 
it must count on finding them ; it offers for itself intellectual 
justifications. It may arrive at a man by this road. But it 
is not itself reason ; it can never confuse itself with a merely 
intellectual process. It cannot, therefore, find, in reason, the 
full grounds for its ultimate convictions. Ever it retains its 
own inherent character, by which it is constituted an act of 
personal trust an act of willing and loving self-surrender 
to the dominant sway of another's personality. It is always 
this, whether it springs up instinctively, out of the roots of 
our being, anticipating all after-proof, or whether it is sum- 
moned out into vitality at the close of a long and late argu- 
mentative process. No argument, no array of arguments, 
however long, however massive, can succeed in excusing it 
from that momentous effort of the inner man, which is its 
very essence. Let reason do its perfect work: let it heap 
up witness upon witness, proof upon proof. Still there will 
come at last the moment when the call to believe will be 
just the same to the complete and reasonable man as it 
always is to the simplest child the call to trust Another 
with a confidence which reason can justify but can never 
create. This act, which is faith, must have in it that spirit 
of venture, which closes with Another's invitation, which 

i. Faith. 53 

yields to Another's call. It must still have in it and about 
it the character of a vital motion, of a leap upward, 
which dares to count on the prompting energies felt astir 
within it. 

Faith cannot transfer its business into other hands to do 
its work for it. It cannot request reason to take its own 
place, or achieve its proper results. There is no possibility 
of devolution here ; it cannot delegate its functions to this 
faculty or to tha" 1 It is by forgetting this that so many 
men are to be found, at the close of many arguments of which 
they fully acknowledge the convincing force, still hovering 
on the brink of faith, never quite reaching it, never passing 
beyond the misery of a prolonged and nerveless suspense. 
They hang back at the very crisis, because they have hoped 
that their reasoning powers would, by their own force, have 
made belief occur. They are like birds on a bough, who 
should refuse to fly until they have fully known that they 
can. Their suspense would break and pass, if once they re- 
membered that, to enter the T ingdom of Heaven, they must 
always be as little children. They must call upon the child 
within them. At the end, as at the beginning, of all the 
argumentative work, it is still the temper of a child which 
they must bring into play. There must still be the energy 
of self-committal, the movement of a brave surrender. Once 
let them turn, enforced by all the pressure of reasonable 
evidence, to this secret fount of life within the self, and back 
flows the strength which was theirs long ago, when the in- 
spiration of their innate sonship moved sweetly in them, 
breeding confidence, secure of itself, undaunted, and un- 
fatigued. That sonship abides in us all, cumbered and 
clouded though it be by our sin ; it abides on and on, fed by 
the succours of a Father Who can never forget or forsake, 
and Who is working hitherto to recover and redeem. And 
while it abides, faith is still possible. For its native motions 
are the spontaneous outcome of that spiritual kinship which, 
if once alive and free, impels us towards Him by Whose 
love we have been begotten. Keason and feeling, proof and 
argument these are means and instruments by which we 

54 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

can invoke this sonship into action, and release it from much 
which fetters and enslaves. But it is the actual upspringing 
force of the sonship itself, which alone can be the source of 
belief. And as it is given to all to be sons of God, through the 
eternal sonship of Christ, therefore it is open to all to count 
upon possessing the conditions of faith in God. 

N OTE . This essay has, for its sole aim, the reassurance of an existing faith in 
face of temporary perplexities. It therefore takes faith as a present and possi- 
ble fact. It assumes man to be a creature who believes. And it tries to show 
why such belief, if it be there, should not be discouraged by difficulties 
which belong to the very nature of its original grounds. For this it recalls 
the depth and security with which the roots of faith run back into the original 
constitution of man ; which original constitution, however broken, thwarted, 
maimed, polluted by sin, remains still in us as the sole pledge and ground 
of our possible redemption in Christ, Who comes to restore the blurred 
image of God in us, and Who must find in us the radical elements of the 
supernatural nature which He enters to renew. To its enduring existence 
in the heart of man Christ always appeals. Men are still children of their 
Father Who is in heaven ; and therefore He can demand, as the sole and 
primal condition of redemption, Faith, which is the witness of the unlost 
sonship. That faith He still assumes to be possible, by the invitation to 
man to believe and so be healed. He makes this invitation just as if it were 
in man's own power to respond to it without for the moment touching on 
the necessity which, through the very effort to believe, man will discover for 
himself i.e. the necessity of God's gift of the Spirit to make such belie: 
exist. Such a gift belonged to the original condition of unfallen man, 
when his nature was itself supernaturally endowed with its adequate an< 
sustaining grace. Such a gift had to be renewed, after the ruin wrought by 
sin, both by the restoration of the broken sonship within the man throug. 
the beloved Son, as well as by the renewal of the evoking and sustainin 
Spirit that should lift up, from within the inner sonship, its living cry o: 
Abba, Father. The right to believe, and the power to believe, had both to be 

But all that was so re-created has, for its preliminary ground, the origina 
constitution of man's sinless nature ; and, in all our treatment of redem 
tion, we must begin by recalling what it was which Christ entered to restore 
That original condition was the pledge of the recovery which God woul 
bring to pass ; and, throughout the interval between fall and rescue, i 
could anticipate the coming Christ by the faith which rejoiced to see Hi 
Day, and saw His Glory, and spake of Him. Therefore the faith whic 
Christ raises to its new and higher power by concentrating it upon His ow 
Personality, is still, at core, the old faith which was the prophetic witne: 
given, under the conditions of the earlier covenant, by that great army o: 
the Faithful which is marshalled before us by the author of the Epistle t< 
the Hebrews, who most certainly considers it possible and justifiable 
emphasise the continuity that holds between the faith of Abraham and th 
faith of the redeemed. 






I. THE object of this essay is not to discuss the so-called 
' proofs ' of the existence of God, but to shew what the Chris- 
tian doctrine of God is, and how it has grown to be what 
it is, out of the antagonisms of earlier days ; and then to ask 
What fuller realization of God's revelation of Himself is 
He giving us through the contradictions and struggles of 
to-day ? If it is true that ' the only ultimate test of reality 
is persistence, and the only measure of validity among our 
primitive beliefs the success with which they resist all efforts 
to change them 1 ,' it is of first importance to discover what 
it is which, through all the struggles of past history, the 
religious nature of man has persistently clung to. Much 
which was once dear to the religious consciousness, and 
which seemed at the time to be an integral part of the 
religious idea, has been given up. A former age abandoned 
it with regret, and looked forward with gloomy foreboding. 
A later age looks back with thankfulness, and recognises 
' the good Hand of our God ' leading us to truer knowledge 
of Himself. 

It would be idle to deny, after all due allowance has been 
made for the natural tendency to believe that the present 
is the critical moment, not only for us, but for the world 
at large, that the crisis of the present day is a very real one, 
and that the religious view of God is feeling the effects of 
the change, which is modifying our views of the world and 
man. When such a fundamental idea is challenged, men are 

1 Fiske, Idea of God, p. 1 39, quoting H. Spencer. 

58 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

naturally tempted to adopt one of two equally onesided 
attitudes, to commit themselves either to a policy of unin- 
telligent protest, or to a policy of unconditional surrender. 
And if the one is needlessly despairing, the other is un- 
warrantably sanguine. The one asks, 'How much must 
I give up, of what religion has always been to me, that a 
little of the old may survive amidst the new 1 ' The other 
asks, ' How little of the old need I keep, so as not to inter- 
fere with the ready acceptance of the new ? ' The one view 
is pessimist, the other optimist. Both have their representa- 
tives in our day, and each party is profoundly conscious of 
the danger to which the other is exposed. The advocates of 
the one view, finding themselves ' in a place where two seas 
meet/ think it safer to ' run the ship aground ' ; those of the 
other ' seeing they cannot bear up against the wind ' prefer 
to ' let her drive.' But if the spirit of the one is merely 
protestant, the spirit of the other is certainly not catholic. 

In contrast with these one-sided views, we propose to 
approach the question in the full conviction that the reve- 
lation of God in Christ is both true and complete, and yet 
that every new truth which flows in from the side of science, 
or metaphysics, or the experience of social and political life, 
is designed in God's providence to make that revelation real, 
by bringing out its hidden truths. It is in this sense that 
the Christian revelation of God claims to be both final and 
progressive ; final, for Christians know but one Christ and 
do not ' look for another ' ; progressive, because Christianity 
claims each new truth as enriching our knowledge of God, 
and bringing out into greater clearness and distinctness some 
half-understood fragment of its own teaching. There are, 
no doubt, always to be found Christians, who are ready to 
treat new knowledge as the Caliph Omar treated the books 
in the library of Alexandria, 'they agree with the Koran 
and are unnecessary, or they disagree with it and must be 
destroyed.' But an intelligent Christian will not ask, ' Does 
this new truth agree with or contradict the letter of the 
Bible ? ' but ' How does it interpret and help us to understand 
the Bible 1 ' And so with regard to all truth, whether it 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 59 

comes from the side of science, or history, or criticism, he 
adopts neither the method of protest nor the method of sur- 
render, but the method of assimilation. In the face of new 
discoveries, the only question he is anxious to answer is this, 
' What old truth will they explain, or enlighten, or make real 
to us? What is this new world of life and interest which 
is awaiting its consecration ? " Truth is an ever-flowing 
river, into which streams flow in from many sides 1 ." What 
is this new stream which is about to empty itself, as all 
knowledge must, into the great flood of Divine truth, " that 
the earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the 
waters cover the sea " ? ' 

Such a hopeful attitude does not, indeed, imply that the 
assimilation of the new truths will go on as a matter of 
course. The Christian knows that the acceptance of truth 
is a moral, as well as an intellectual, matter, and in the moral 
world there is no place for laisser faire. He expects to be 
called upon to struggle ; he expects that the struggle will 
need his utmost effort, moral and intellectual. His work 
is both to keep and to claim ; to hold fast the faith ' once 
for all delivered to the saints,' and yet to see in every frag- 
ment of truth a real revelation of the mind and will of God. 
He has no cut and dried answer to objections ; he does not 
boast that he has no difficulties. But he does claim to look 
out upon the difficulties of his day, not only fearlessly, but 
with hope and trust. He knows that Christianity must 
triumph in the end, but he does not expect all difficulties 
to be removed in a moment. And he is strong enough, if 
need be, to wait. 

II. Whether anyone is really guilty of what Hume calls 
the ' multiplied indiscretion and imprudence ' of dogmatic 
atheism, whether positivism can rightly be so classed, whether 
agnosticism is not atheism to all intents and purposes, are 
questions which fortunately lie outside the scope of the 
present enquiry. As for polytheism it has ceased to exist 
in the civilised world. Every theist is, by a rational neces- 
sity, a monotheist. But we find ourselves, in the present day, 

1 S. Clem. Alex. Strom. I. v. 

60 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

face to face with two different views of God, which though 
they constantly, perhaps generally, overlap, and even some- 
times coincide, yet imply different points of view, and by 
a process of abstraction can be held apart and contrasted 
with one another. Many devout Christians are philosophers 
and men of science ; many men of science and philosophers 
are devout Christians. But the God of religion is not the 
God of science and philosophy. Ideally, everyone will allow 
that the relic 'ous idea of God, and the scientific and philo- 
sophical idea of God must be identical, but in actual fact 
it is not so, and in the earlier stages of the development of 
both, there is a real antagonism. To accept this antagonism 
as absolute is, by a necessary consequence, to compel one 
to give way to the other. We cannot long hold two con- 
tradictory truths. We find ourselves compelled to choose. 
We may have Religion or Philosophy, but not both. 

Very few, however, are prepared to go this length. It is 
much more usual to get rid of the antagonism by adopting 
one of two alternative m ;ho*ls. 

(i) Of these the first is a suggested division of territory, 
in which religion is allotted to faith, and philosophy and 
science to reason. Such an expedient, though not uncom- 
monly, and perhaps even wisely, adopted by individuals, 
who refuse to give up either of two truths because they 
cannot harmonize them, becomes ridiculous when seriously 
proposed as a solution of the difficulty. Moreover the pro- 
posed division of territory is unfair to start with. ' Give 
us the Knowable, and you shall have the rest, which is far 
the larger half,' sounds like a liberal offer made by science 
to religion, till we remember that every advance in know- 
ledge transfers something from the side of the unknown to 
the side of the known, in violation of the original agreement. 
Mr. Herbert Spencer calls this division of territory a ' recon- 
ciliation 1 .' But if anything in the world could make religion 
hate and fear science and oppose the advance of knowledge, 
it is to find itself compelled to sit still and watch the slow 
but sure filching away of its territory by an alien power. 

1 Cf. Herbert Spencer, First Principles, Pt. I. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 61 

We say nothing here of the fact that Mr. Herbert Spencer's 
division ignores the truth that knowledge of correlatives 
must be of the same kind 1 , and that if knowledge has to 
do with one and faith with the other, either faith must be 
a sort of knowledge, or knowledge a sort of faith. We merely 
notice the unfairness of a division which assumes rationality 
for science, and leaves irrationality to religion. 

Curiously enough, however, there are many devout people, 
who would be horrified at the thought that they had borrowed 
from Agnosticism, and who have nevertheless made a simi- 
lar division of territory. They are the people who stake all 
upon what reason cannot do. They have no interest in the 
progress of knowledge. The present gaps in science are their 
stronghold, and they naturally resist every forward step in 
knowledge as long as they can, because each new discovery 
limits the area in which alone, according to their imperfect 
view, faith can live. Every triumph of science on this 
theory, as on Mr. Herbert Spencer's, becomes a loss, not a gain, 
to religion. The very existence of God is bound up with that 
part of His work in nature which we cannot understand, and, 
as a consequence, we reach the paradox that the more we 
know of His working, the less proof we have that He exists. 
Modern apologetic literature abounds in this kind of argu- 
ment. It is the devout form of the worship of the unknow- 
able. Yet it is no wonder that people who take refuge in 
gaps find themselves awkwardly placed when the gaps begin 
to close. 

(2) The other alternative is even more commonly adopted, 
for it fits in well with the vagueness and want of precision 
in language, which is at a premium in dealing with religious 
questions. This consists in frittering away the meaning of 
definite terms till they are available for anything, or adopting 
a neutral term which, by a little management and stretching, 
will include opposites. This is the method of indefinite in- 
clusion. The strength of the former alternative lay in the 
appearance pf sharp scientific delimitation of territory: the 
strength of the latter in its unlimited comprehensiveness. 

1 See this criticism excellently stated in Caird's Phil, of Religion, pp. 32, etc. 

62 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

A term is gradually stripped of the associations which make 
it what it is, it is ' defecated to a pure transparency,' and 
then it is ready for use. The term ' God ' is made merely ' a 
synonym for nature : ' ; religion becomes ' habitual and per- 
manent admiration 2 ,' or ' devout submission of the heart and 
will to the laws of nature 3 ' ; enthusiasm does duty for wor- 
ship, and the antagonism between religion and anything else 

Now so far as this represents, negatively, a reaction against 
intolerance and narrowness, and positively a desire for unity, 
there is not a word to be said against it. Its tone and temper 
may be both Christian and Catholic. But the method is a 
radically false one. It is not a real, but only an abstract, 
unity which can be reached by thinking away of differences. 
As Dr. Martineau says, in his excellent criticism of this 
method, ' You vainly propose an eirenicon by corruption of a 
word.' ' The disputes between science and faith can no more 
be closed by inventing " religions of culture " than the boun- 
dary quarrels of nations by setting up neutral provinces in 
the air 4 .' 'A God that is merely nature, a Theism without 
God, a Religion forfeited only by the "nil admirari " can never 
reconcile the secular and the devout, the Pagan and the Chris- 
tian mind 5 .' As well might we attempt to reconcile the par- 
tizans of the gold and silver shields by assuring them that in 
reality the shields were silver gilt. 

We are left, then, face to face with the opposition between 
the religious and the philosophic or scientific view of God. 
The counter-charges of superstition and anthropomorphism 
on the one side, and of pantheism and rationalism on the 
other, serve to bring out the antithesis of the two views. 
No division of territory is possible. There may be many 
sciences, each with its defined range of subject-matter ; but 
there can be only one God. And both religion and philo- 
sophy demand that He shall fill the whole region of thought 
and feeling. Nor can any confusion or extension of terms 

1 Natural Religion, iii. p. 45, quoted Address, 1884. 

by Martineau. * A Study of Religion, vol. i. pp. n, 12. 

2 Ibid., iv. p. 74. 5 Ibid., p. 15. 

3 Frederic Harrison's Nvic Year's 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 63 

help us to a reconciliation, or blind us long to the true issue. 
The conflict is too real and too keenly felt to admit of any 
patched-up peace. The idea of God, which is to claim alike 
the allegiance of religion and philosophy, must not be the 
result of compromise, but must really and fully satisfy the 
demands of both. 

III. What then are these demands considered in abstraction 
from one another? We are at once met by the difficulty 
of defining religion. But if we cannot define religion, or 
trace it back to its hidden source, we can at least dis- 
cover its characteristics, as we know it after it has emerged 
from the obscurity of prehistoric times, and before any con- 
scious attempt has been made to reconcile religion and philo- 
sophy, or find a middle term between them. 

Now traditional definitions of religion, given as it were 
from within, and constructed with no view of opposition to, 
or reconciliation with, philosophy, are agreed in representing 
religion as a relation between man and the object or objects 
of his worship, and this implies, not only the inferiority of the 
worshipper to that which he worships, but also something of 
likeness between the related terms, since, as even Strauss 
allows, in our inmost nature we feel a kinship between 
ourselves and that on which we depend 1 . It is quite indif- 
ferent which of the rival etymologies of the word ' religion ' 
we adopt 2 . S. Augustine 3 , following Lactantius, speaks of 
religion as ' the bond which binds us to One Omnipotent 
God.' S. Thomas 4 adopts almost unchanged the definition 
given by Cicero : it is ' that virtue which has to do with the 
worship of a higher nature known as the Divine.' It is not 
too much to say that, for the modern religious world, religion 
implies at least the practical belief in a real and conscious 
relation between the inner life of man and an unseen Being. 
And whatever of mystery there may be about that unseen 
Being, it would seem as if a real relationship demands so much 
of likeness in the related terms, as is implied in personality. 

1 Old Faith and New, 41. pretatus est, a relegendo,' Lact. Inst. 

2 'Hoc vinculo pietatis obstricti Deo iv. 28. 

et rdiguti sumus, unde ipsa religio 3 De verd religions, sub fin. 

noinon accepit, non ut Cicero inter- 4 Sum. Theol. 2. 2. 81. Art. i. 

64 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

It is here that we reach the point at which we are able to 
distinguish between the religious and the philosophical ideas 
of God. It is not that religion and philosophy necessarily 
contradict or exclude one another, but that they approach 
the problem with different interests. Religion demands a 
personal object, be that object one or many. It is committed 
to the belief in a moral relationship between God and man. 
Philosophy demands unity, whether personal or impersonal. 
For philosophy is nothing if it does not completely unify 
knowledge. And it seems as if each finds lacking in the 
other that which it values most and thinks of first. The only 
hope, then, of reconciliation is in the idea of God as per- 
sonal, and yet one. So long as religion retains a trace of 
polytheism or dualism, philosophy can have nothing to say 
to it. So long as philosophy has no room for a personal 
God, religion must exclude philosophy. The whole issue of 
the controversy lies here. If the belief in a personal God 
is to be called anthropomorphism, religion is hopelessly an- 
thropomorphic. With the disappearance of anthropomorphism 
in this sense, as Professor Fiske rightly sees 1 , religion dis- 
appears. But we cannot escape anthropomorphism, though 
our anthropomorphism may be crude or critical 2 . We do 
not read our full selves into the lower world, because we are 
higher than it ; we do not transfer to God all that belongs 
to our own self-consciousness, because we know that He is 
infinitely greater than we are. But we should be wrong not 
to interpret Him by the highest category within our reach, 
and think of Him as self-conscious life. Christianity refuses 
to call this anthropomorphism, though it stands or falls with 
the belief that, in his personality, man is in the image of 
God. An anthropomorphic view of God for a Christian 
means heathenism or heresy : a theomorphic view of man 
is of the essence of his faith 3 . 

The religious idea of God may, of course, become philo- 

1 Idea of God, p. 117. . 3 Justin Martyr (Exhort, ad Graec., 

2 See Seth's Hegdiunism and Per- ch. xxxiv) explains the anthropo- 
sonality, pp. 223, 224, one or two sen- morphisms of polytheism as an in- 
tences from which are, almost ver- version of the truth that man is in 
batim, transferred to the text. the image of God. 

ii, The Christian Doctrine of God. 65 

sophical without ceasing to be religious. If there is to be a 
religion for man as a rational being it must become so. But 
there is a point beyond which, in its desire to include philo- 
sophy, religion cannot go. It cannot afford to give up its 
primary assumption of a moral relationship between God 
and man. When that point is surrendered or obscured the 
old religious terms become increasingly inapplicable, and we 
find ourselves falling back more and more on their supposed 
philosophical equivalents, the ' Infinite ' or the ' Absolute,' or 
the Universal Substance, or the Eternal Consciousness, or the 
First Cause, or the Omnipresent Energy. But these terms, 
which metaphysicians rightly claim, have no meaning for 
the religious consciousness, while, in metaphysics proper 
' God ' is as much a borrowed term as ' sin ' is in non-reli- 
gious ethics. Moral evil is ' sin ' only to those who believe 
in God ; and the infinite is only ' God ' to those in whom it 
suggests a superhuman personality with whom they are in 
conscious relation. Even when religion and philosophy both 
agree to speak of God as ' the Infinite,' for the one it is an ad- 
jective, for the other a substantive. The moment we abandon 
the idea of God as personal, religion becomes merged in philo- 
sophy, and all that properly constitutes religion disappears. 
God may exist for us still as the keystone in the arch of 
knowledge, but He is no longer, except as a metaphor, ' our 
Father, which is in heaven.' 

IV. Religion then, properly and strictly, and apart from ex- 
tensions of the term made in the interests of a reconciliation, 
assumes a moral relationship, the relationship of personal 
beings, as existing between man and the Object of his wor- 
ship. When this ceases, religion ceases : when this begins, 
religion begins. But of the beginnings of religion we know 
nothing. Prehistoric history is the monopoly of those who 
have a theory to defend. But we may take it as proven that 
it is at least as true that man is a religious, as that he is 
a rational, animal. 'Look out for a people,' says Hume, 
'entirely destitute of religion. If you find them at all, be 
assured that they are but few degrees removed from brutes V 

1 Hume, Essays, II. 425. 

66 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Hume's statement is confirmed by the fact that those who 
would prove that there is no innate consciousness of Deity 
are driven to appeal to the case of deaf mutes and degraded 
savages 1 . Whether monotheism was a discovery or a re- 
covery, whether it rose on the ruins of polytheism, or 
whether polytheism is a corruption of a purer faith, is a 
question we need not attempt to settle. Nor need we de- 
cide the priority of claim to the title of religion as between 
nature-worship, or ancestor-worship, or ghost-worship. The 
farther we go back in history the more obviously true 
is the charge of anthropomorphism so commonly brought 
against religion. The natural tendency to treat the object 
of religion as personal exists long before any attempt is 
made to define the conditions or meaning of personality, 
and includes much which is afterwards abandoned. For 
religion in its earliest stages is instinctive, not reasoned. 
It is 'naively objective.' It is little careful to clear up its 
idea of the nature and character of its God. It is still less 
anxious to prove His existence. It is only when conscience 
grows strong, and dares to challenge the religion which had 
been instinctively accepted, that men learn to see that God 
not only is, but must be, the expression of the highest known 
morality. It is only when the light of conscious reason is 
turned back upon religious ideas, that polytheism becomes 
not merely untrue, but impossible and inconceivable. What 
religion starts with is not any theory of the world, but an 
unreasoned belief in a Being or beings, however conceived of, 
who shall be in a greater or less degree like the worshipper, 
but raised above him by the addition of power, if not 
omnipotence; greatness, if not infinity; wisdom, if not omni- 

But, while implying from the first something of a moral 
relationship between man and the object of his worship, reli- 
gion does not always conceive of that Object as necessarily 
holy or perfectly wise. There are religions which are both 
immoral and childish. They have in them no principle of 
growth, and therefore they are the opponents alike of moral 

1 H. Spencer, Eccl. Inst, p. I. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 67 

and intellectual progress. Tantuin relligio potuit suadere 
malorum is the reflexion of Christian apologists, as well as of 
the Roman poet, on the religions of heathenism. Hence, it is 
argued, ' Religion is the enemy of morals and of science. 
Away with it. It is a mere matter of feeling, which cannot 
and ought not to stand before the imperious challenge of con- 
science and reason.' Such a view has both truth and falsehood 
in it. The religious idea of God must be able to justify itself 
to our moral and to our rational nature, on pain of ceasing to 
exist. But religion cannot be thus shut up to one part of our 
nature, nor can one part of our nature be set against the 
rest. There is, as Herbert Spencer is fond of pointing out *, 
a kind of idolatry of reason in the present day. Reason has 
exposed many superstitions only to become itself the final object 
of superstition. Men forget that, after all, reasoning is only 
' re-coordinating states of consciousness already coordinated 
in certain simpler ways,' and that that which is unreasoned is 
not always irrational. Rationality in man is not shut up in 
one air-tight compartment. ' There is no feeling or volition 
which does not contain in it an element of knowledge -.' This 
is the truth which Hegel has seized when he speaks of religion 
as ' reason talking naively.' You can no more shut up faith 
to the compartment of feeling than reason to the compartment 
of the intellect. Religion claims the whole man, and true 
religion is that which can make good its claim. 

The natural history of religion, then, is the history of the 
process by which that which has its secret birthplace behind 
all the distinctions of modern psychology, establishes its claim 
on man, absorbing into itself all that is best and truest in his 
moral and intellectual being, as conscience and reason succes- 
sively emerge into conscious activity : while, from another 
point of view, it is the progressive purification of the religious 
idea of God till He is revealed as, what He is to a thinking 
Christian of to-day, the Object of reverent worship, the moral 
ideal, the truth of nature and of man. 

Such an end is not attained in a moment. It is the result 

1 Psych, vol. ii. 388-391. 2 Caird, Philosophy of Religion, p. 162. 

F 2 

68 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

of a process with which we are familiar elsewhere, viz. evolu- 
tion by antagonism. The true has to be separated from the 
false. Immoral and irrational conceptions of God have to be 
thrown aside. It is only after what looks like an internecine 
struggle between religion and morality that man learns the 
truth about the character of God, and only after a conflict 
with philosophy and science, which seems to threaten the very 
life of religion, that he learns what can be known of the 
Divine Nature. For among religions, too, there is a struggle 
for existence, in which the fittest survive. And the test of 
fitness is the power to assimilate and promote moral and 
intellectual truth, and so to satisfy the whole man. An 
ideally perfect religion is not ' morality touched by emotion,' 
but a worship which reflects itself in the highest known 
morality, and is interpreted and justified to itself by reason. 
It is this process, as we know it in history, that we proceed 
to examine. 

V. The statement that religion, even in its most elementary 
forms, takes for granted some relationship of likeness between 
the worshipper and the Object or objects of his worship, 
by no means implies that all religion associates the highest 
morality with its idea of God. On the contrary, we know 
that not only are there immoral religions, but that immorality 
sometimes lingers on in religion long after it is condemned 
elsewhere, and that a people will permit as a religious duty 
what, according to their thinking, nothing but religion would 
justify. We cannot, then, at all accurately gauge the moral 
condition of a people by the received teaching about its gods, 
for morality is often far in advance of religion, and the char- 
acter which in a god or goddess is protected by a religious 
halo is looked upon as hateful or impure in man or woman. 
The sense of dependence, which, though it does not constitute 
the whole, is yet an essential element in the religious con- 
sciousness, the awe which, in a low state of development, 
shews itself in a grovelling fear of the invisible beings, 
makes it impossible for the worshipper to judge his god 
by the standard he applies to his fellow man. The god 
may be lustful, but his lusts must be respected ; he is strong 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 69 

and vengeful and must by all means be kept in a good temper, 
cajoled, or outwitted, or bribed, or humoured. His commands 
must be obeyed, without question or resistance. But by and 
bye the moral nature learns its strength, and begins to assert 
its independent right to speak. Morality outgrows religion. 
The relations between religion and morals become more 
strained. Some heretic dares to say that the Gods are 
immoral ; that they are men ' writ large,' and bad men too. 
Their claim to reverence is challenged. There is a moral 
awakening. Soon the old religion is treated with scorn and 
contempt, and either a new religion takes its place, coming 
in as it were on the crest of the wave of moral reformation, or 
the old religion is purified and becomes the foster-mother of 
the new morality, giving to it a divine sanction, and receiving 
from it in turn new strength and vitality. Or failing these, 
men abandon religion in the supposed interest of morals. A 
religion with mysteries may be tolerated, but a religion once 
seen to be immoral is at an end. For a time ethics, with a 
background of metaphysics or politics, prevails, but gradually 
it tends to drift into a mere prudentialism, while a merely 
mystical philosophy tries in vain to satisfy those deeper 
instincts which reach out to the unseen. 

In the history of Greek thought the collision came in the 
days of Xenophanes. Long before what is sometimes called 
the era of conscious morality, Greece had outgrown its tradi- 
tional religion. Greek philosophy at its birth was mythology 
rationalized, and the beginning of independent morality in 
Greece shewed itself in a criticism of the religious teaching 
of Homer and Hesiod. The scathing satire of Xenophanes 
reminds us at times of the way in which Isaiah speaks of the 
idolatry of his day. It is not only wrong, it is capable of 
a reductio ad absurdum. Anthropomorphism, immorality, 
childish folly these are the charges which Xenophanes 
brings against the worship of Magna Graecia. Anaxagoras 
had already been banished for suggesting that the god Helios 
was a mass of molten iron, but Xenophanes turns into open 
ridicule the religion of his day. 

' Homer and Hesiod,' he says, ' ascribe to the gods all that 

70 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

among men is held shameful and blameworthy, theft, adultery, 
and deceit V 

'One God there is mightiest among gods and men, who 
neither in form nor thought is like to men. Yet mortals 
think the gods are born and have shape and voice and 
raiment like themselves. Surely if lions and cows had hands, 
and could grave with their hands and do as men do, they too 
would make gods like themselves, horses would have horse- 
like gods, and cows gods with horns and hoofs V 

When the age of moral philosophy begins, amidst the un- 
settlement of the sophistic period, the same protest is taken 
up by Plato. In Xenophanes the protest of the reason and 
the conscience went together. In Plato the criticism of the 
received theology is more distinctly a moral criticism. God 
cannot lie or deceive. He cannot be the cause of evil. He 
is good, and only the source of good. He is true in word 
and deed. If not, we cannot reverence Him. It cannot be 
true that the gods give way to violent emotions, still less to 
sensuality and envy and strife 3 . Tor God cannot be un- 
righteous, He must be perfectly righteous, and none is like 
Him save the most righteous among men 4 .' 

Here we have a collision between an immoral religious 
conception of God and a morality which is becoming con- 
scious of its own strength. And what was the result 1 ? 
Religion in Greece received its death blow. It had no real 
recuperative power. It could not absorb and claim the new 
morality. Homer and Hesiod, the ' Bible ' of the Athenian, 
were too profoundly immoral. A Kephalus might go back 
in silent protest to his sacrifice, but the youth of Athens 
turned from religion to morality. When we pass from Plato 
to Aristotle, the last trace of religion in morals has dis- 
appeared. Theology has become Metaphysics, and has no place 
in the world of practical life. The religious element has 
disappeared from philosophy, and is only revived in the 
mysticism of Neo-Pythagoreanism and Neo-Platonism. In 

1 Ritter and Preller, Hist. Phil. 3 Plat. Rep. 377-385. 
Grac., 7th ed. 82. * Thaet. 176 C. 

2 Ibid., 83. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 71 

metaphysics and science we owe everything to the Greeks; 
in religion, as distinguished from theology, we owe nothing. 

From the Greeks we turn to the Jews, to whom alone, 
among the nations of the pre-Christian age, we of the modern 
world trace back our religious lineage. We speak of the 
religion of the Old Testament as ' revealed ' in contrast with 
all other pre-Christian religions. Is that distinction tenable ? 
If so, what does it mean, and what justifies us in making it ? 
It is clear that the answer must be sought in what the Old 
Testament revelation is, rather than in the process by which 
the Jews became the appointed depositaries of it. For what- 
ever were the prehistoric elements out of which the religion 
of Israel came, whether Assyrian or Accadian or Indo-German 
or Egyptian, and whatever were the steps by which Israel 
was led * to that doctrine of God which constituted its mis- 
sion and its message to the world, as we look back from the 
point of view of Christianity we see that the religion of Israel 
stands to the teaching of Christ in a relation in which no 
Pagan religion stands 2 . The Law and the Prophets were for 
all the world ' a sacred school of the knowledge of God, and 
the ordering of the soul 3 .' If it is true that the Bible only 
records the later and more important stages in a process 
which began in prehistoric times amidst the various forms 
of polytheistic worship, even if it could be shewn that the 
history, as we have it, has been subjected to successive re- 
visions, that its laws have been codified, its ritual elaborated, 
its symbolism interpreted, it would still remain true that the 
religion of Israel, which begins where its history begins, and 
of which, indeed, its history is little more than the vehicle, is 

1 H. Spencer, of course, follows tianity is connected with the Old 
Kuenen in assuming a polytheistic Testament.' Incredible, no doubt, 
origin of Hebrew monotheism. See But why ? For the very reason which 
Kuenen, Religion of Israel, i. 223. makes it 'incredible' that man should 

2 It is strange that Mr. Darwin be evolved directly from a fish, as 
should have failed to see that this Anaximander is said to have taught, 
was the answer to his difficulty. It and not incredible that he should be 
appeared to him, he tells us (Auto- evolved, as Darwin teaches, from 
biography, p. 308), 'utterly incredible one of the higher vertebrates. The 
that if God were now to make a re- very idea of development, whether in 
velation to the Hindoos, he would species or religions, implies a law, and 
permit it to be connected with the order in the development. 

belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Chris- 3 S. Athan. De Incarn. c. xiL 

72 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

bound up with the assertion of Monotheism. The central fact 
of its revelation is this, ' Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is 
One Lord.' The central utterance of its law is, ' Thou shalt 
have none other gods but Me.' The unity of God, that truth 
which other religions were feeling after and tending towards, 
stands out clearly and distinctly as the characteristic of the 
religion of Israel, and is fearlessly claimed as an inheritance 
from the patriarchal age. 

And not less remarkable than the assertion of the unity 
of God is the assumption that this One God is a God of 
Righteousness. He is ' a God of truth and without iniquity ; 
just and right is He.' Here, again, it was not that the re- 
ligion of Israel asserted what other religions denied, but that 
Israel proclaimed clearly and with increasing certainty a truth 
which the highest contemporary religions were struggling to 
express. In the religion of Israel the pre-Christian world 
rose to articulate religious utterance. Its highest and truest 
intuitions found a voice. Israel had yet much to learn and 
much to unlearn as to what true morality is. It had anthro- 
pomorphisms of thought and language to get rid of. It had 
to rise in Psalmist and Prophet to moral heights unknown 
to the patriarchal age. But the remarkable thing is that 
the claim is made. Morality is claimed for God : God is de- 
clared to be irrevocably on the side of what man knows as 
righteousness. And this truth is proclaimed not as a dis- 
covery but as a revelation from God Himself. It was this, 
not less than the proclamation of monotheism, which made 
the teaching of the Old Testament what it was. It con- 
sciously transformed the natural law of ' might is right ' 
into the moral truth that ' right is might.' 

And the consequences of this new departure in the religious 
history of man were far-reaching. It made the difference be- 
tween the religion of Israel and all other religions a difference 
not merely of degree but of kind. The worship of the Lord 
and the worship of the heathen gods becomes not only a 
conflict between the true and the false in religion, but between 
the moral and the immoral in practice. More than this, it 
changes the mere emotional feeling of awe and dependence 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 73 

on invisible powers into trust and confidence. If God is 
irrevocably on the side of right, the nation or the individual, 
that is struggling for the right, is fighting on the side of 
God. It was this which made the great Hebrew leaders, 
and the Psalmists after them, take it for granted that their 
cause was the cause of God, and that the Lord of Hosts 
was with them. Even the wars of extermination were the 
expression in act of the utter antagonism between good 
and evil, the cause of God and that of His enemies. And 
when Saul spared A gag it was from no excess of charity, no 
glimpse of a higher morality ; it was an act of moral weak- 
ness. Finally, this claim of morality for God precluded the 
possibility of such a collision as took place in the history 
of the Greeks. The progressive development of morals in 
the Old Testament, and the gradual unfolding of a perfect 
character l was also for Israel a progressive revelation of the 
character of God. Step by step the religious idea advanced 
with moral progress. And, as they advance, the contrast 
with other religions becomes more marked. ' It was the final 
distinction between Polytheism and the religion of Israel 
that the former emphasized power, the latter the moral 
element to which it subordinated and conjoined power V 
And this moral conception of God was constantly kept before 
the people. If they lapse into idolatry and adopt heathen 
practices and heathen ideas of God, the prophets are ready 
with the warning that God is the God of Israel, only because 
Israel is a chosen people to bear His name and His truth 
before the world ; and if they are false to their mission, they 
will be rejected. If, again, the sacrificial system loses its moral 
significance as the recognition of the holiness of God and the 
sinf ulness of the sinner, and the forward-pointing look towards 
the great moral fact of the Atonement, and becomes merely 
ritual, and perfunctory, and formal, the prophets dare to de- 
nounce even the divinely ordered sacrifices as things which 
God hates. 

Yet it was not that, in the religion of Israel, morality was 

1 It is needless to say that this section Discipline of the Christian Character. 
is largely indebted to Dean Church's - Edinb. Rev., Apr. 1888, p. 512. 

74 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

made the essential thing, a nucleus of morals, as it were, with 
a halo of religious emotion round it. It was that the religious 
and the moral consciousness are brought together in a real 
unity. To love the Lord is to hate evil. God is One who 
gives His blessing to the righteous, while the ungodly and 
him that delighteth in wickedness doth His soul abhor. He, 
then, who would ascend into the hill of the Lord and stand 
in His holy place, must have clean hands, and a pure heart, 
and a lowly mind. The Lord God is holy. He has no plea- 
sure in wickedness, neither shall any evil dwell with Him. 
Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His seat. 
The sacrifice that He loves is the sacrifice of righteousness. 
He is to be worshipped in the beauty of holiness. What He 
requires of man is that he shall do justly, and love mercy, 
and walk humbly with his God. 

All this, which comes out no doubt with increasing clear- 
ness in the Psalms and Prophets, is already implicit in that 
earlier claim made by the religion of Israel, that the 
true God is on the side of righteousness, and that to be false 
to righteousness is to be a traitor to God. In this union of 
religion and morality neither is sacrificed to the other. Each 
gains from its union with the other. The religious idea of 
God, and the religious emotions which gather round it, are 
progressively purified with the growth of moral ideas ; and 
morality receives new life and strength when the moral law 
is seen to be the unfolding of the character of a Righteous 
God, and moral evil is known as ' sin ' against a Personal 
Being. The earnest moral protest which in Greece was 
directed against the national religion, is found in the Old 
Testament making common cause with the national religion 
against the immoral beliefs of heathenism. Hence the Jew 
was not called upon, as the Greek was, to choose between his 
religion and his conscience. He never felt the strain which 
men feel in the present day, when a high and pure morality 
seems ranged against religious faith. For the Jew every ad- 
vance in moral insight purified, while it justified, that idea of 
God, which he believed had come down to him from the 
' Father of the Faithful.' His hope of immortality, his faith 

IT. The Christian Doctrine of God. 75 

in the ultimate triumph of the God of Israel, were alike based 
upon the conviction that God is a God of justice and mercy, 
and that the Righteous One could not fail His people, or suffer 
His holy One to see corruption. Even though with the growth 
of morality, and the fuller unfolding of the character of God, 
there came, like a shadow cast by light, the deepening conscious- 
ness of sin as the barrier between man and God, the Jew re- 
fused to believe that the separation was for ever. Sin was a 
disease which needed healing, a bondage which called for a 
deliverer, a state of indebtedness from which man could not 
free himself. But Israel believed in and looked forward to, 
with confidence and hope, the Redeemer who should come 
to Zion and save His people from their sins. 

The final revelation of Christianity came outwardly as a 
continuation and development of the religion of Israel, and 
claimed to be the fulfilment of Israel's hope. It was a ' re- 
publication ' of the highest truth about God which had been 
realized hitherto. For it came ' not to destroy but to fulfil.' 
God is still the Eternally One, the Eternally Righteous. Not 
sacrifice but holiness, not external ' works ' but inward ' faith,' 
not the deeds of the law, but the righteousness which is of 
God this is what He requires. He is still the God of Israel. 
But Israel according to the flesh had ceased to be the Israel 
of God, and the children of faithful Abraham, in whom, 
according to the ancient promise, all the families of the earth 
should be blessed, are to be gathered from east and west and 
north and south, from circumcised and uncircumcised, bar- 
barian, Scythian, bond or free, and recognised as one family 
under the one Father. If Christianity had been this and this 
only, Christ might have claimed to be a great prophet, breaking 
the silence of 400 years, restoring the ancient faith, and truly 
interpreting and carrying forward the spirit of the ancient 
revelation. But He claimed to be more than this. He claimed, 
as the Son of God, to be not only the true, but the only, Re- 
vealer of the Father. For ' no man knoweth the Father but 
the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him.' What 
fresh characteristics, then, has this new revelation to add to the 
Old Testament teaching about God 1 He is still One, the only 


76 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

God. He is perfect Righteousness, yet, as even the older 
religion knew, a God of loving-kindness and tender mercy, 
' Who wills not the death of the sinner.' But more than all 
this, He is now revealed to man as Infinite Love, the One 
Father of humanity, Whose only begotten Son is Incarnate 
and 'made man that we may be made God.' Not one jot 
or tittle of the old revelation of God, as a God of Righteous- 
ness, is lost or cancelled. The moral teaching is stern and un- 
compromising as ever. God's love, which is Himself, is not the 
invertebrate amiability, or weak good-naturedness, to which 
some would reduce it. ' The highest righteousness of the Old 
Testament is raised to the completeness of the Sermon on the 
Mount V ' The New Testament,' it has been said, ' with all 
its glad tidings of mercy, is a severe book V For the good- 
ness and the severity of God are, as it were, the convex and 
the concave in His moral nature. But what seized upon 
the imagination of mankind as the distinctive revelation of 
Christianity was the infinite love and tenderness and com- 
passion of this Righteous God for sinful man. It was this 
which shone out in the character of Christ. He was Very 
God, with a Divine hatred of evil, yet living as man among 
men, revealing the true idea of God, and not only realizing 
in His human life the moral ideal of man, but by taking 
human nature into Himself setting loose a power of moral 
regeneration, of which the world had never dreamed. 

The advance which the Gospel of Christ makes upon 
the Old Testament revelation consists then, not only in the 
new truth it teaches as to the character of God, but in the 
new relation which it establishes between God and man. 
So soon as men learn the Old Testament truth that God 
is eternally on the side of righteousness, the awe and cringing 
fear, which lies behind heathen religions, and justifies us 
in calling them superstitions, gives place to trustful con- 
fidence, which deepens into faith, and gathers round it those 
affections and desires for union with God which find ex- 
pression in the book of Psalms. The saints of the Old 
Testament could ' rest in the Lord ' and wait for the vindi- 

1 Discipline of the Christian Character, p. 85. * Ibid., p. 87. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 77 

cation of His Righteousness in human life ; they could yearn 
for His presence and hope for the day when they should 
' see the King in His beauty.' But they were yet separated 
from Him by the unobliterated fact of sin. Enoch ' walked 
with God,' Abraham was called ' the friend of God,' Moses ' the 
Lord knew face to face/ David was ' a man after God's own 
heart,' Daniel ' a man greatly beloved.' But one and all 
of these fell short, and necessarily fell short, of the closeness 
of that union which is the Christian's birthright. In the 
Gospel, God is revealed as one with man. And this truth 
changed the whole attitude and atmosphere of worship. There 
was worship still, for humanity was not merged and lost 
in Godhead. There is no Christian ring about the statement l 
that ' in Christianity, in the consciousness that he is partaker of 
the Divine existence, man no longer sustains the relation of 
Dependence but of Love.' Rather the antithesis between de- 
pendence and freedom is destroyed. As perfect love casts out 
fear, yet leaves reverence, so the consciousness of union with 
God, as distinct from absorption in Him, while it destroys 
the last remnant of what is servile and degrading in religious 
emotion, and gives man freedom, yet gives the freedom of 
loving dependence upon God. And by this gift it sets free 
new affections and appeals to new motives. It was the 
assured consciousness of union with God which gave the 
first Christians their power in the great moral struggles of 
their day. Their moral ideal with its loftiness, its purity, 
its perfect truthfulness, would by its very perfectness have 
paralyzed effort, had they not believed that they were one 
with Him Who had not only proclaimed but realized it, that 
they could do all things through Christ which strengthened 
them. And the horror of sin, which was a characteristic note 
of Christian ethics, was due to the same fact. Unrighteousness, 
not only as under the Old Testament, ranged a man on the 
side of the enemies of God, but according to its degree tended 
to break the supernatural bond which through the Incar- 
nation united men with God. Impurity, which meant so 
little for the civilized world of the first Christian centuries, 

1 Hegel. Phil of Hist., p. 247, Eng. Tr. 

78 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

was for the Christian not defilement only, but sacrilege, for 
his body was God's temple. The love of the world was 
enmity against God, yet the neglect of social duties, and 
of all that is now summed up in the ' service of man,' was 
for the Christian ipso facto the declaring himself outside the 
love of God, just as, conversely, the love of the brethren was 
the proof that he had ' passed from death unto life.' 

Thus in primitive Christianity the religious and the moral 
consciousness were at one, as in the Old Testament, but both 
are now raised to their highest level. Free scope is given 
for the development of both, and the satisfaction of the 
demands of both, in Christian life and Christian worship. 
Side by side they fought and triumphed over heathenism, 
taking up and assimilating all that was best and truest in 
non-Christian ethics. And though Christians were long in 
learning what manner of spirit they were of, it seemed as 
if a real conflict between religion and morals, within the 
area of Christianity, was impossible. 

And yet again and again, in the history of Christianity, 
such a conflict has come about. Every moral reformation 
within the Church was a protest of the conscience against 
unworthy views of God ; every new Order that was founded 
was a nursery of moral reformation. Yet every protest 
against formalism and unreality in religion, every attack on 
ecclesiasticism and ' priestcraft ' in the Church, or on worldli- 
ness and laxity in professing Christians, owed its strength to 
the reassertion of the truth, that in the Christian idea religion 
and morals are inseparably united. The moral reformer 
always claimed Christianity on his side, when attacking the 
Christianity of his day. This was conspicuously so in the 
great moral upheaval of the sixteenth century. In actual 
fact, religion and morality had separated. And the nearer 
one got to the centre of Western Christendom, the more 
open and unabashed the neglect of morality was. In Italy 
of the fifteenth century renaissance we see, in strange 
confusion, 'all that we love in art, and all that we loathe 
in man 1 .' It seemed as if, as in the old riddle, a swarm of 

1 Cont, Rei\, Oct. 1878, p. 645. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 79 

bees had settled in the dead lion's carcass, and there was 
sweetness instead of strength, corruption where once was 
life. When the new century opened, Borgia was the supreme 
Bishop of the West, and the strength of the protest of Chris- 
tianity against immorality may be gathered from the list of 
prices to be paid to the pardoner. The devout retired from 
the contest into the severer discipline of the monastic life, and 
hoped against hope for the days of a Papa angelicus, who 
never came. Yet when the strained relations of religion and 
morals resulted in a revolution, it never occurred to those, 
who had a moral reformation at heart, to say that religion 
was outgrown, and morality must henceforth take its place. 
They appealed from the Christianity of the sixteenth century 
to the Christianity of Christ. Even of those who, in their fear 
of popery, broke away farthest from the Christian idea of 
God, all, if we except the Anabaptists, claimed the Bible on 
their side. It was a genuine moral revolt against a religion 
which had come to tolerate immorality. The hatred of ' eccle- 
siasticism' and 'sacerdotalism' was not at first a rejection 
of the Church and the Priesthood, but a protest against 
anything which, under the sacred name of religion, becomes 
a cover for unreality, or makes sin a thing easy to be atoned 
for. The Reformation was a moral protest, and its results 
were seen within as well as outside the Roman communion. 
The Council of Trent was a reforming Council; the Jesuits 
were the children of the Reformation ; and Roman Christianity 
in the strength of its own moral revival, even in the moment 
of defeat, became again ' a conquering power V 

On the other hand, those whose first impulse was a 
protest in favour of a moral religion and a belief in a 
God who hates iniquity, have bequeathed to the world a 
legacy of immorality, of which they never dreamt, and of 
which we, in the present day, are feeling the full effects. 
Lutheranism starts with the belief that God is love : 
Calvinism with the conception of God as power. With the 
former, the desire, at all costs, to guard the belief in the 
freedom of God's grace, led to a morbid fear of righteousness, 

1 Kanke, Popes, i. 395. 

8o The Religion of the Incarnation. 

as if it were somehow a rival to faith. With the latter, a 
one-sided view of the power of God gradually obscured the 
fact that righteousness and justice eternally condition its 
exercise. If the one was, as history shews us, in constant 
danger of Antinomian developments, the other struck at the 
root of morality by making God Himself unjust. Forensic 
fictions of substitution, immoral theories of the Atonement, 
' the rending asunder of the Trinity ' and the opposing of the 
Divine Persons, like parties in a lawsuit *, were the natural 
corollaries of a theory which taught that God was above 
morality and man beneath it. 

How deeply these false views of God have influenced 
English religious thought is shewn by the fact that every 
attack on the moral, as distinguished from the intellectual 
position of Christianity, is demonstrably an attack on that 
which is not Christianity, but a mediaeval or modern per- 
version of it. J. S. Mill's well-known words 2 , ' I will call 
no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that 
epithet to my fellow creatures,' was a noble assertion of 
' immutable morality ' against a religion, which alas ! he 
mistook for Christianity. The conscience of to-day, and it 
is a real gain that it should be so, refuses to believe that 
the imprimatur of religion can be given to that which is not 
good, or that God would put us to moral confusion. It 
would rather give up religion altogether than accept one 
which will not endorse and advance our highest moral ideas. 

But men do not always stop to make the necessary dis- 
tinctions. On the one side they see a traditional view of 
religion which they cannot harmonise with the highest 
morality; on the other, they see a morality, which, though 
it has grown up under the shadow and shelter of religion, 
seems strong enough to stand alone. And their first thought 
is ' Away with religion. We have outgrown it. Henceforward 
we will have morals unencumbered by religion.' What 
would be the effect on the morals of a nation of thus 
renouncing the religious sanction it is not safe to predict. 

1 Dollinger, The Church and the 2 Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's 

Churches, p. 239. Philosophy, p. 103. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 81 

In individuals certainly it sometimes has disastrous results. 
But there is one thing which those who talk about the ' secu- 
larization of morals 1 ' seldom take into account, and that is 
the effect on what, in contrast to morals, they call religion. 
The religious consciousness always refuses to be treated as 
defunct, and the religious emotions, if they no longer find 
their object in a God of Righteousness, and are no longer 
controlled by morality, will not be satisfied with the worship 
of the Unknowable or of idealized humanity, but will avenge 
themselves, as they have done again and again, in super- 
stition 2 . 

And the attempt to do without religion in morals is as 
unphilosophical as it is dangerous. It is parallel to what, in 
the region of morality proper, we all recognise as a false 
asceticism. It is the attempt to crush out, rather than to 
purify. When men realize the danger of giving the rein to 
the animal passions, there are always to be found moralists 
who will treat these passions as in themselves evil, and 
advocate the suppression of them. And only after an anti- 
nomian revolt against that false teaching do men realize that 
morality is not the destruction, but the purification and 
regulation of the passions. So with religion and the religious 
emotions. The function of morality is to purify the religious 
idea of God, and religion and morality are strong and true in 
proportion as each uses the help of the other. But neither 
can treat the other as subordinate. God is more than what 
Kant makes Him. the ultimate justification of morality: 
morality is more than what some religious people would have 
it, obedience to the positive commands of even God Himself. 
In experience we find them separate and even opposed: 
ideally they are one, united not confused. Separated, religion 
tends to become superstitious, morality to degenerate into a 
mere prudentialism, or at least an expanded utilitarianism. 
United, religion gives to right that absolute character which 

1 H. Spencer, Data of Ethics, pref. and men were carried either to the 

2 Se Ihne's remarks on the separa- schools of Greek Philosophy or to the 
tion of morals and religion in Rome grossest and meanest superstition.' 
at the time of the Punic wars. 'The Hist, of Rome, vol. ii. pp. 477, 478. 
religious cravings were not satisfied, 

82 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

makes it defiant of consequences ; morality safeguards the 
idea of God from aught that is unworthy of the worship of 
moral beings. 

As the result of all the conflicts which have raged round 
the idea of God so far as morals are concerned, one truth has 
burned itself into the consciousness of both the apologists and 
opponents of religion, a truth as old indeed as the religion 
of Israel, but only slowly realized in the course of ages, the 
truth, namely, that the religious idea of God must claim and 
justify itself to the highest known morality, and no amount 
of authority, ecclesiastical or civil, will make men worship an 
immoral God. And already that truth has thrown back its 
light upon questions of Old Testament morality. We no 
longer say, ' It is in the Bible, approved or allowed by God, 
and therefore it must be right.' It was this view which, in 
every age, has given its protection to religious wars and 
intolerance and persecution. But we look back and see in the 
perspective of history how God in every age takes man as he 
is that He may make him what he is not. We see in the Old 
Testament not only the revelation of the Righteousness of 
God, but the record of the way in which, in spite of wayward- 
ness and disobedience, He raised His people to the knowledge 
of the truth. 

VI. But the religious idea of God in our day, as in former 
ages, is challenged not only by conscience, but by the specu- 
lative reason. And there is a close parallelism between the 
two conflicts. When religion and morals are opposed, men 
naturally say, ' Give us morals ; away with religion.' And 
the answer is True religion is moral ; that which is not moral 
is not true ; and morality without religion will not only leave 
the religious consciousness unsatisfied, but fall short of its own 
true perfection. So when religion and philosophy are opposed, 
men say once more, 'Give us reason; away with religion.' 
And the answer again is True religion is rational : if it 
excludes reason, it is self-condemned. And reason without 
religion fails of its object, since, if philosophy can find no 
place for religion, it cannot explain man. 

But here again nothing is gained by confusing the issue, or 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 83 

denying the actual fact of the collision. We may say with 
Lacordaire, ' God is the proper name of truth, as truth is the 
abstract name of God.' But it is not a matter of indifference 
from which point we start, whether with religion we approach 
God first as a moral Being, or with philosophy seek for Him 
as the truth of man and nature. The motto of Oxford 
University, Dominus Illuminatio mea, altogether changes 
its meaning if we read it Illuminatio Dominus metis. As 
Reville says, ' A religion may become philosophical, but no 
philosophy has ever founded a religion possessing real his- 
torical power V And it is a fact patent to the observation of 
all, that it is easier to make religion philosophical than to make 
philosophy in any real sense religious. The reason of this is 
obvious. Religion is not only first in the field, it covers the 
whole ground before either morals or science have attained 
their full development, or even emerged into conscious life. 
But when we speak of philosophy, we have reached a stage in 
which the reason has already separated itself from, and set 
itself over against, the religious consciousness, and must either 
absorb religion into itself, in which case religion ceases to be 
religion, or must leave religion outside, though it may borrow 
and appropriate religious terms. If, then, the idea of God is to 
appeal to both the religious consciousness and the speculative 
reason it must be by claiming philosophy for religion, not by 
claiming religion for philosophy. It is from within, not from 
without, that religion must be defended. 

In Greece the traditional polytheism was challenged, as we 
have seen, at once on the side both of morals and metaphysics. 
To Xenophanes, indeed, the unity of God is even more essen- 
tial than His morality, and the attack on anthropomorphism 
is as much an attack upon the number of the gods of Hesiod 
as upon the immoral character attributed to them. In the 
unity, however, which Xenophanes contends for, the reli- 
gious idea of God is so attenuated, that we hardly know 
whether the One God is a person, or an abstraction. Indeed, 
it is hard to see how a champion of Eleaticism could con- 
sistently have held the personality of God, as we understand 

1 History of Religions, p. 2 2. 
G 2 

84 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

it, without falling under his own charge of anthropomorphism. 
In Plato the same difficulty appears, only complicated or 
relieved by the fact that while from the moral side he talks 
like a theist, from the metaphysical his teaching is pantheistic. 
Is the ' Idea of Good ' personal ? Is it a God we can love and 
worship, or only a God we can talk about 1 Is the vision of 
Er a concession to popular views, or the vehicle of moral and 
religious truth ? The question is hardly more easy to decide 
with regard to Aristotle. The religious atmosphere, which 
lingers on in Plato, has disappeared. What of the religious 
belief 1 ? Did Aristotle in any intelligible sense hold the 
personality of God ? Great names are ranged on both sides of 
the mediaeval controversy. Who shall decide ? But whether 
or no anything of religion survived in philosophy, it was not 
strong enough to withstand the attack of the moral and 
the speculative reason, still less to claim these as its own. It 
is not on the side of religion, but of speculation, that we are 
debtors to the Greeks. 

Among the Jews, on the other hand, speculation seems 
hardly to have existed. Religion was satisfied to make good 
her claim to the region of morals. God was One, and He was 
Righteous, but the mystery which enveloped His nature the 
Old Testament does not attempt to fathom. ' Clouds and 
darkness are round about Him,' yet out of the thick darkness 
comes the clear unfaltering truth that ' Righteousness and 
judgment are the habitation of His seat.' Jewish religion and 
Greek speculation had little contact, and less kinship, till the 
best days of both were passed. But in the days of the dis- 
persion we get the beginning of the mingling of those streams 
which were only united under the higher unity of Christianity. 
' With the Jews of the East,' it has been said, ' rested the 
future of Judaism : with them of the West, in a sense, that of 
the world. The one represented old Israel, groping back 
into the darkness of the past ; the other young Israel, stretch- 
ing forth its hands to where the dawn of a new day was about 
to break V The Septuagint translation threw open to the 
Greek world the sacred books of Israel. The Apocrypha, 

1 Edersheim, Life and Times, i. p. 1 7. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 85 

with all its glorification of Judaism, was both an apology 
and an eirenicon 1 . It seemed as if in Wisdom personified 
might be found a middle term between the religion of Israel 
and the philosophy of Greece, and the life of righteousness 
might be identified with the life of true wisdom. The Jews 
of Alexandria were thus willing to find a strain of truth in 
Greek philosophy, and Alexandrian Greeks were found ready 
' to spiritualize their sensuous divinities V But the result 
was a compromise, in which the distinctive elements of each 
were not harmonized but lost. There was no fusion as yet 
of Jewish and Greek thought, only each was learning to 
understand the other, and unconsciously preparing for the 
higher synthesis of Christianity. 

Whether we think of Christ as the ' Son of Man,' or as the 
Revealer of God, Christianity is bound to transcend national 
distinctions, and to claim not only the whole of humanity, but 
the whole of man, his reason, no less than his heart and will. 
And this Christ did in a special way. He not only speaks of 
Himself as ' the Truth,' and as having come ' to bear witness 
to the Truth,' but the very complement (if we may say so) of 
His revelation of the Father was the sending ' the Spirit of 
Truth,' who should teach His disciples all things. This pos- 
session of ' truth ' is always spoken of by Christ as a future 
thing, implicit indeed in Himself, Who is the Truth, but only 
to be explicitly declared and brought to remembrance when 
the Spirit of Truth should come. He was to guide them 
' into all truth.' ' Ye shall know the truth, and the truth 
shall make you free.' It was inevitable, then, that the ques- 
tion should arise, Will this religion, which has broken 
through the narrowness of Judaism, and yet by its belief in 
a God of righteousness and love combated and triumphed 
over heathen immorality, have the power to assimilate and 
absorb the philosophy of Greece ? The great crisis in the 
world's history, as we see it, looking back from the security 
of eighteen centuries, was this : Will Christianity, with alJ 
its moral triumphs, become a tributary to Greek philosophy, 

1 See Edersheim, i. pp. 31, etc. 

8 Hegel, Philosophy of History, p. 343, Eng. Tr. 

86 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

as represented by the Schools of Alexandria, or will it claim 
and transform the rational, as it has transformed the moral, 
progress of humanity 1 The answer of Christianity is unhesi- 
tating. Christianity is truth, and there is only one truth. 
Christianity is wisdom, and there is only one wisdom ; 
for the wisdom of the world is not wisdom but folly. And 
at once the rival claim is made. Why not a division of 
territory 1 Knowledge for the philosopher ; faith for the 
Christian. The Gnostics taught, as a modern philosopher 
teaches, that religion is 'reason talking naively,' and that, 
good as it is for ordinary people, the Gnostic can afford to do 
without it. Every one knows the answer of the Apostles to 
the insidious suggestions of Gnosticism. To S. Peter it is 
' a damnable heresy, even denying the Lord who bought us V 
To S. Paul it is the ' science falsely so called 2 ; ' the ' know- 
ledge which puffs up 3 ; ' the ' wisdom of this world 4 .' To 
S. John, Cerinthus was ' the enemy of the truth 5 .' To S. 
Polycarp, Marcion is ' the firstborn of Satan.' It never 
occurred to the Apostles, or the Apologists after them, to 
retreat into the fastnesses of a reasonless faith. For with 
them faith was implicit knowledge, and the only knowledge 
that was true. 

It was the collision of Christianity with Greek thought 
which gave rise to Christian theology in the strict sense of 
the term. Its necessity was the claiming of Greek as well as 
Jew; its justification was the belief. in the presence of the 
Spirit of truth ; its impulse the desire ' to know the things 
which are freely given to us by God 6 .' The first Christians 
were not theologians. They were 'unlearned and ignorant 
men.' When Christ preached, the common people heard Him 
gladly, the publicans and the harlots believed Him, the poor 
found in His teaching ' good news,' and a few fishermen de- 
voted their lives to Him. But the Scribes and Pharisees 
stood aloof; and the rationalistic Sadducees asked Him 
captious questions ; and the Herodians, the Erastians of the 

1 2 S. Pet. ii. i. * ! Cor. iii. 19. 

2 i Tim. vi. 20. Euseb. iii. 28. 

3 i Cor. viii. 6. 6 i Cor. ii. 12. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 87 

day, tried to involve Him with the secular power. It was 
only when challenged by an earnest, but non-religious philo- 
sophy, that reason came forward, in the strength of the Spirit 
of truth, to interpret to itself and to the world the revelation 
of Christ. Religion and theology in different ways have to 
do with the knowledge of God and of spiritual truth. They 
have the same object, God, but their aims and their methods 
are different. Religion knows God ; theology is concerned with 
the idea of God. Religion sees ; theology thinks. Religion 
begins and ends in an almost instinctive attitude of worship ; 
theology rationalizes and defines the characteristics of the 
Object of worship. As reason seeks to interpret feeling, so 
theology interprets religion. It makes explicit what is im- 
plicit in religion. ' As the intellect is cultivated and expanded, 
it cannot refrain from the attempt to analyse the vision 
which influences the heart, and the object in which it centres ; 
nor does it stop till it has, in some sort, succeeded in ex- 
pressing in words, what has all along been a principle both 
of the affections and of practical obedience V It takes the 
facts which the religious consciousness has seized, seeks to 
bring them into distinctness before the mental vision, to 
connect them with one another in a coherent system, and 
find in them the explanation and unity of all that is. Christian 
theology grows naturally out of the Christian religion. But 
religion is a divine life ; theology a divine science. 

This explains the fact that though both religion and theo- 
logy have to do with the knowledge of God, and ideally 
work in perfect harmony, yet they are often found opposed. 
Theology is always in danger of becoming unreal. What is 
an interpretation for one age becomes ' a tongue not under- 
standed ' in the next. Hence when a revival of religious life 
comes, it frequently shews itself in an attack on the received 
theology. Theology is no longer regarded as the scientific 
expression of the very truths which religion values ; it is 
conceived of as the antithesis of religion, and reformers dream 
of a new theology which shall be for them what, though they 
know it not, the old theology was to their predecessors, the 

1 Newman's Arians, ch. ii. i. 

88 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

handmaid and guardian of religious truth. When Martin 
Luther said that ' an old woman who reads her Bible in the 
chimney corner knows more about God than the great doctors 
of theology,' he was emphasising the severance which, in his 
day, had come to exist between a religious life and theological 
orthodoxy. And when in his Table Talk he says, ' A Jurist 
may be a rogue, but a theologian must be a man of piety,' 
he touches a real truth. A hundred years later, amid the 
confusions and unrealities of the seventeenth century, John 
Smith 1 , the Cambridge Platonist, said the same : ' They are 
not always the best skilled in divinity,' he says, ' that are 
most studied in those pandects into which it is sometimes 
digested.' ' Were I to define divinity, I should rather call it 
a divine life than a divine science.' Technically, no doubt, 
he was wrong, for theology is a science and not a life, but, 
like Luther, he was vindicating the truth that it is possible 
for quite simple people to know God, though they have no 
knowledge of theology, and that theology, when it becomes 
speculative and abstract, ceases to be theology. A theologian, 
as Mazzini says of an artist, ' must be a high-priest or a 

But the world dislikes a high-priest, and good people dis- 
like a charlatan. And the consequence is that theology, 
ancient or modern, is attacked from two very different points 
of view, by those who look upon it as the antithesis of ' the 
simple Gospel,' and by those who approach it from the side 
of speculative thought. Theology claims to be a divine 
science. Religious people attack it because it is a science ; 
philosophers because it claims to be divine. To the former, 
religion expressed in rational terms ceases to be religion ; to 
the latter, that science is no science which claims for itself 
unique conditions. Yet S. Paul seems to recognise both the 
necessity and the uniqueness of theology when he says to the 
Greeks of Corinth, ' We received not the spirit of the world, 
but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the 
things that are freely given us by God.' 

It is the relation of Christian theology to philosophy and 

1 Natural Truth of Christianity, r, 2. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 89 

science with which we are specially concerned. But it is 
impossible to pass by the objection to theology which comes 
as it were ah intra from the side of religion. For if it is 
valid, then Christianity may as well give up at once any 
idea of being the religion of man. Yet people say, ' Why 
have a theology ? Human reason cannot search out " the deep 
things of God ;" it will only put new difficulties in a brother's 
way ; why not rest content with the words of Holy Scrip- 
ture, with simple truths like " God is love," and simple duties 
like "Love one another," and leave theology alone ?' Now 
without denying what George Eliot calls ' the right of the 
individual to general haziness,' or asserting that every Chris- 
tian must be a theologian, we may surely say that Christianity 
is bound to have a theology. And even individual Chris- 
tians, if they ever grow into the manhood of reason, must 
have a theology, or cease to be religious. The protest 
against theology from the side of religion looks modest and 
charitable enough till we remember that religious haziness 
is generally, if not always, the outcome of moral laziness ; 
that it implies the neglect of a duty and the neglect of 
a gift ; the duty of realizing to the reason the revelation of 
Christ, and the gift of the Spirit of Truth to enable us to do it. 
More than this, the protest against theology in the interests 
of religion is irrational and suicidal. To tell a thinking man 
that he need not interpret to his reason what religion tells 
him of God, is like saying to him, ' Be religious if you will, 
but you need not let your religion influence your conduct.' 
If Christianity had been content to be a moral religion, if it 
had abandoned its claim to rationality and had left Greek 
speculation alone, it must have accepted either the Gnostic 
division of territory, or recognised an internecine conflict 
between religion and philosophy. And it did neither ; but, 
under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, Christian theology 
arose and claimed the reason of the ancient world. 

Thus as the religion of the Old Testament claims morality 
for God, so Christianity goes further and claims to hold the 
key to the intellectual problems of the world. So far as the 
nature of God is concerned, Christianity met the intellectual 

9O The Religion of the Incarnation. 

difficulties of the first centuries by the Doctrine of the 

From time to time people make the discovery that the 
doctrine of the Trinity is older than Christianity. If the 
discoverer is a Christian apologist, he usually explains that 
God has given anticipatory revelations to men of old, and 
points out how they fall short of the revelation of Christianity. 
If he is an opponent of Christianity, he triumphantly claims 
to have unmasked the doctrine and tracked it down to a 
purely natural origin. ' People think,' says Hegel, ' that by 
pronouncing a doctrine to be Neo-Platonic, they have ipso 
facto banished it from Christianity 1 .' Men have found the 
doctrine, or something like it, not only in the Old Testament 
but in Plato and Neo-Platonism, and among the Ophite 
Gnostics, in the Chinese Tao-Te-Ching and the ' Three Holy 
Ones ' of Bouddhism, in the Tri-murti of Hinduism and else- 
where. Why not ? Revelation never advances for itself the 
claim which its apologists sometimes make for it, the claim 
to be something absolutely new. A truth revealed by God is 
never a truth out of relation with previous thought. He 
leads men to feel their moral and intellectual needs before 
He satisfies either. There was a preparation for Hebrew 
monotheism, as there was a preparation for the Gospel of 
Christ. There was an intellectual preparation for the doc- 
trine of the Trinity, as there was a moral preparation for the 
doctrine of the Incarnation. If the Christian doctrine of the 
Incarnation is distinguished from the avatars of Hinduism, 
and the incarnations of Thibetan Lamaism, by its regenerative 
moral force, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is no less 
distinguished from the pseudo-trinities of Neo-Platonism and 
its modern developments by the fact that for eighteen cen- 
turies it has been the safeguard of a pure Monotheism against 
everything which menaces the life of religion. 

But Christian theology is not ' a philosophy without as- 
sumptions.' It does not attempt to prove sola ratione the 
doctrine of the Trinity, but to shew how that which reason 
demands is met and satisfied by the Christian doctrine of God. 

1 Phil, of Hist., p. 343, Eng. Tr. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 91 

Starting with the inheritance of faith, the belief in the Divi- 


nity of Christ, and trusting in the guidance of the Spirit of 
Truth, it throws itself boldly into the rational problem, fights 
its way through every form of Unitarianism, and interprets 
its faith to itself and to the world at large in the doctrine of 
the Triune God. Its charter is the formula of Baptism, where 
the ' treasures of immediate faith are gathered up into a sen- 
tence, though not yet formulated into a doctrine V 

To the Greek mind two things had become clear before 
Christianity came into the world, and it would be easy to 
trace the steps by which the conclusions were reached. First, 
Reason, as relation-giving, seeks for unity in the manifoldness 
of which it is conscious, and will be satisfied with nothing less. 
But Eleaticism had convincingly proved that an abstract 
unity can explain nothing. Quite apart from questions of 
religion and morals, the Eleatic unity was metaphysically a 
failure. Plato had seen this, and yet the 'dead hand' of 
Eleaticism rested on Platonism, and the dialogue Parmenides 
shewed how powerless the Doctrine of Ideas was to evade the 
difficulty. Thus the Greeks more than 2000 years ago had 
realized, what is nowadays proclaimed, as if it were a new 
discovery, that an absolute unit is unthinkable, because, as 
Plato puts it in the Philebus, the union of the one and the 
many is ' an everlasting quality in thought itself which never 
grows old in us.' The Greeks, like the Jews, had thus had 
their ' schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.' They had not 
solved, but they had felt, the rational difficulty ; as the Jews 
had felt, but had not overcome, except through the Messianic 
hope, the separation of man from God. But as the Trinitarian 
doctrine took shape, Christian teachers realized how the Chris- 
tian, as opposed to the Jewish, idea of God, not only held the 
truth of the Divine Unity as against all polytheistic religions, 
but claimed reason on its side against all Unitarian theories. 
They did not, however, argue that it was true because it 
satisfied reason, but that it satisfied reason because it was true. 

They started, indeed, not with a metaphysical problem to 
be solved, but with a historical fact to proclaim, the fact of the 

1 Dorner. Hist, of Doct. i. pp. 362, etc. 

92 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Resurrection, and a doctrinal truth to maintain, the Divinity 
of Him who rose. And starting from that basis of fact revealed 
in Christ, they found themselves in possession of an answer 
to difficulties which at first they had not felt, and thus their 
belief was justified and verified in the speculative region. 

The truth for which they contended, which was enshrined 
in their sacred writings, was that ' the Father is God, the 
Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they 
are not three Gods, but one God.' But the Fathers do 
not treat this doctrine merely as a revealed mystery, still 
less as something which complicates the simple teaching of 
Monotheism, but as the condition of rationally holding the 
Unity of God. ' The Unity which derives the Trinity out of 
its own self,' says Tertullian, ' so far from being destroyed, is 
actually supported by it 1 .' 'We cannot otherwise think of 
One God,' says Hippolytus, ' but by truly believing in 
Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost V ' The supreme and only 
God,' says Lactantius, ' cannot be worshipped except through 
the Son. He who thinks that he worships the Father only, 
in that he does not worship the Son also, does not worship 
the Father 3 .' Without the Son the Father is not,' says 
Clement of Alexandria, ' for in that He is a Father He is the 
Father of the Son, and the Son is the true teacher about the 
Father 4 .' So Origen argues, If God had ever existed alone 
in simple unity and solitary grandeur, apart from some object 
upon which from all eternity to pour forth His love, He 
could not have been always God. His love, His Fatherhood, 
His very omnipotence would have been added in time, and 
there would then have been a time when He was imperfect. 
'The Fatherhood of God must be. coeval with His omnipo- 
tence ; for it is through the Son that the Father is Almighty 5 .' 
This was the line of argument afterwards developed by 
S. Athanasius when he contended against the Arians that the 
Son was the reality or truth 6 of the Father, without whom 
the Father could not exist ; and by S. Augustine, when he 
argues that love implies one who loves and one who is loved, 

1 Adv. Prux. ch. iii. * Strom, v. I. 

3 Cont. Noet. xiv. 5 De Prim. I. ii. 10. 

3 lust, iv. c. 29. 6 Adv. Arianos i. 20. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 93 

and love to bind them together 1 . Even one so unphilo- 
sophically minded as Irenaeus 2 , cannot but see in the Chris- 
tian doctrine of the relation of the Father and the Son, the 
solution of the difficulty about the infinity of God : ' Immensus 
Pater in Filio rnensuratus ; mensura Patris Filius.' While 
philosophy with increasing hopelessness was asking, How 
can we have a real unity which shall be not a barren and 
dead unity, but shall include differences'? Christianity, with 
its doctrine of God, was arguing that that which was an 
unsolved contradiction for non- Christian thought, was a 
necessary corollary of the Christian Faith 3 . 

The other truth which Greek thought had realized was the 
immanence of reason in nature and in man. When Anaxa- 
goras first declared that the universe was the work of intelli- 
gence, we are told that he seemed ' like a sober man amongst 
random talkers.' But both Plato and Aristotle accuse him 
of losing the truth which he had gained because he made 
intelligence appear only on occasions in the world, dragged 
in. like a stage-god, when naturalistic explanations failed 4 . 
The conception of creation out of nothing was of course un- 
known to Anaxagoras. Intelligence is only the arranger of 
materials already given in a chaotic condition. With Aristotle 
too it is reason which makes everything what it is. But 
the reason is in things, not outside them. Nature is rational 
from end to end. In spite of failures and mistakes, due to 
her materials, nature does the best she can and always aims 
at a good end 5 . She works like an artist with an ideal in 
view 6 . Only there is this marked difference, Nature has 
the principle of growth within herself, while the artist is 
external to his materials 7 . Here we have a clear and con- 
sistent statement of the doctrine of immanent reason as 
against the Anaxagorean doctrine of a transcendent intelli- 
gence. If we translate both into the theological language of 
our own day, we should call the latter the deistic, the former 

1 De Trin. viii. 10 and ix. 2. 5 p. 455 b i7- The references are to 

1 Iren. Adv. Haer. IV. iv. I. 2. the Berlin edition. 

3 Cf. pp. 333-336- 6 P- i99" 8 > I8: 4 T 5 bl 7: 73i" 2 4- 

4 Plat. Phaed. 98 B. Arist. Met. 7 p. 1070*7, !O33 b 8, 753 a 3- 
A. 4. 

94 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

the pantheistic, view ; or, adopting a distinction of supreme 
importance in the history of science, we might say that we 
have here, face to face, the mechanical and the organic view 
of nature. Both were teleological, but to the one, reason was 
an extra-mundane cause, to the other, an internal principle. 
It was the contrast between external and inner design, as we 
know it in Kant and Hegel ; between the teleology of Paley 
and the 'wider teleology' of Darwin and Huxley and Fiske ; 
between the transcendent and immanent views of God, when 
so held as to be mutually exclusive. 

It is these two one-sided views which the Christian doctrine 
of God brings together. Religion demands as the very condition 
of its existence a God who transcends the universe ; philosophy 
as imperiously requires His immanence in nature. If either 
Religion denies God's immanence, or Philosophy denies that 
He transcends the universe, there is an absolute antagonism 
between the two, which can only be ended by the abandonment 
of one or the other. But what we find is that though Philo- 
sophy (meaning by that the exercise of the speculative reason 
in abstraction from morals and religion) the more fully it 
realizes the immanence of God, the more it tends to deny the 
transcendence, religion not only has no quarrel with the doc- 
trine of immanence, but the higher the religion the more unre- 
servedly it asserts this immanence as a truth dear to religion 
itself. The religious equivalent for ' immanence ' is ' omni- 
presence,' and the omnipresence of God is a corollary of a true 
monotheism. As long as any remains of dualism exist, there 
is a region, however small, impervious to the Divine power. 
But the Old Testament doctrine of creation, by excluding 
dualism, implies from the first, if it does not teach, the omni- 
presence of God. For the omnipotence of God underlies the 
doctrine of creation, and omnipotence involves omnipresence. 
Hence we find the Psalmists and Prophets ascribing natural 
processes immediately to God. They know nothing of second 
causes. The main outlines of natural science, the facts of 
generation and growth, are familiar enough to them, yet 
every fact is ascribed immediately to the action of God. He 
makes the grass to grow upon the mountains ; He fashions 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 95 

the child in the womb ; He feeds the young ravens ; He pro- 
vides fodder for the cattle ; He gives to all their meat in due 
season ; when He lets His breath go forth they are made ; when 
He takes away their breath they die and return to dust. 

This doctrine of the omnipresence of God, as conceived by 
religion, had however yet to be fused with the philosophical 
doctrine of immanence. And here again the fusion was effected 
by the Christian doctrine of God, as Trinity in Unity. The 
earlier Apologists concern themselves first with the vindica- 
tion of the Divine attributes. God's separateness from the 
world as against Greek Pantheism, His omnipresence in it as 
against a Judaising deism. But the union of God's transcen- 
dence with His immanence, and with it the fusion of the 
religious with the philosophic idea of God, is only consciously 
completed by the Doctrine of the Trinity l . The dying words 
of Plotinus, expressing as they did the problem of his life, are 
said to have been, ' I am striving to bring the God which is 
within into harmony with the God which is in the universe.' 
And the unsolved problem of Neo-Platonism, which is also the 
unsolved problem of non-Christian philosophy in our day, is 
met by the Christian doctrine of God. All and more than all 
that philosophy and science can demand, as to the immanence 
of reason in the universe, and the rational coherence of all its 
parts, is included in the Christian teaching : nothing which 
religion requires as to God's separateness from the world, 
which He has made, is left unsatisfied. The old familiar 
Greek term AOFO2 which, from the days of Heracleitus, 
had meant to the Greek the rational unity and balance of 
the world, is taken up by S. John, by S. Clement, by 
S. Athanasius, and given a meaning which those who started 
from the Philonian position never reached. It is the 
personal Word, God of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, 
who is one in the Holy Spirit with the Father. ' The 
Word was God.' 'By Him all things were made.' 'He the 
All-powerful, All-holy Word of the Father spreads His 
power over all things everywhere, enlightening things seen 
and unseen, holding and binding all together in Himself. 

1 Dorner, Hist, of Doct. i. p. 366. 

96 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Nothing is left empty of His presence, but to all things and 
through all, severally and collectively, He is the giver and sus- 
tainer of life. . . . He, the Wisdom of God, holds the universe 
like a lute, and keeps all things in earth and air and heaven 
in tune together. He it is Who binding all with each, and 
ordering all things by His will and pleasure, produces the 
perfect unity of nature, and the harmonious reign of law. 
While He abides unmoved for ever with the Father, He yet 
moves all things by His own appointment according to the 
Father's will V The unity of nature is, thus, no longer the 
abstract motionless simplicity of Being, which had been so 
powerless to explain the metaphysical problems of Greece. 
It is the living Omnipresent Word, coeternal and consub- 
stantial with the Father, and the philosophical truth becomes 
an integral part of that Christian doctrine of God, which, 
while it safeguarded religion and satisfied reason, had won 
its first and greatest victories in the field of morals. 

VII. The Christian doctrine of God triumphed over heathen 
morality and heathen speculation neither by unreasoning 
protest nor by unreal compromise, but by taking up into 
itself all that was highest and truest in both. Why then is 
this Christian idea of God challenged in our day 1 Have 
we outgrown the Christian idea of God, so that it cannot 
claim and absorb the new truths of our scientific age 1 If 
not, with the lessons of the past in our mind, we may con- 
fidently ask, What fuller unfolding of the revelation of 
Himself has God in store for us, to be won, as in the past, 
through struggle and seeming antagonism ? 

The fact that the Christian Theology is now openly 
challenged by reason is obvious enough. It almost seems 
as if, in our intellectual life, we were passing through a 
transition analogous to that which, in the moral region, 
issued in the Reformation. Even amongst those who be- 
lieve that Christian morality is true, there are to be found 
those who have convinced themselves that we have intel- 
lectually outgrown the Christian Faith. ' The only God,' we 
have been told lately 2 , 'whom Western Europeans, with a 

1 S. Athan. Contra Genles, 42. 2 Morison's Service of Man, p. 48. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 97 

Christian ancestry of a thousand years behind them, can 
worship, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ; or rather, 
of S. Paul, S. Augustine and S. Bernard, and of the innumer- 
able " blessed saints," canonized or not, who peopled the ages 
of Faith. No one wants, no one can care for, an abstract 
God, an Unknowable, an Absolute, with whom we stand in 
no human or intelligible relation.' ' God, as God,' says 
Feuerbach *, ' the infinite, universal, non-anthropomorphic 
being of the understanding, has no more significance in 
religion than a fundamental general principle has for a special 
science ; it is merely the ultimate point of support, as it were, 
the mathematical point of religion.' Yet it is assumed that 
this is all that remains to us, and we are left in the following 
dilemma, ' An anthropomorphic God is the only God whom 
men can worship, and also the God whom modern thought 
finds it increasingly difficult to believe in 2 .' 

In such a state of things it is natural that men should turn 
to pantheism as a sort of middle term between religion and 
philosophy, and even claim, for the unity of the world, the 
venerable name and associations of God. But the remarkable 
thing is that in the numberless attempts to attack, or defend, 
or find a substitute for Theism, the Christian, or Trinitarian, 
teaching about God rarely appears upon the scene. Devout 
Christians have come to think of the doctrine of the Trinity, 
if not exactly as a distinct revelation, yet as a doctrine 
necessary for holding the divinity of Christ, without sacri- 
ficing the unity of God. Ordinary people take it for granted 
that Trinitarianism is a sort of extra demand made on Christian 
faith, and that the battle must really be fought out on the 
Unitarian basis. If Unitarian theism can be defended, it will 
then be possible to go farther and accept the doctrine of the 
Trinity. It is natural that when Christians take this ground, 
those who have ceased to be Christian suppose that, though 
Christianity is no longer tenable, they may still cling to 
'Theism,' and even perhaps, under cover of that nebulous 
term, make an alliance not only with Jews and Mahommedans, 

1 Quoted by W. S. Lilly, Nineteenth 2 Morison, Service of Man, p. 49. 
Century, Aug. 1888, p. 292. 


98 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

but with at least the more religious representatives of pan- 
theism. It is only our languid interest in speculation or a 
philistine dislike of metaphysics, that makes such an un- 
intelligent view possible. Unitarianism said its last word in 
the pre-Christian and early Christian period, and it failed, as 
it fails now, to save religion except at the cost of reason. So 
far from the doctrine of the Trinity being, in Mr. Gladstone's 
unfortunate phrase, ' the scaffolding of a purer theism,' non- 
Christian monotheism was the ' scaffolding ' through which 
already the outlines of the future building might be seen. 
For the modern world, the Christian doctrine of God remains 
as the only safeguard in reason for a permanent theistic 
belief 1 . 

It is not difficult to see how it is that this truth is not more 
generally recognised. The doctrine of the Trinity, by which 
the Christian idea of God absorbed Greek speculation into it- 
self, had but little point d'appui in the unmetaphysical western 
world. It bore the imprimatur of the Church ; it was easily 
deducible from the words of Holy Scripture ; it was seen to 
be essential to the holding of the divinity of Christ. But 
men forgot that the doctrine was ' addressed to the reason 2 ; ' 
and so its metaphysical meaning and value were gradually 
lost sight of. In the days of the mediaeval Papacy, ecclesias- 
tical were more effective than metaphysical weapons, and 
Scholasticism knew so much about the deepest mysteries of 
God, that it almost provoked an agnostic reaction, in the 
interests of reverence and intellectual modesty. With the 
Reformation came the appeal to the letter of Holy Scripture, 

1 It is far from our purpose to un- He wavers between a view which 
dervalue the work of Dr. Martineau. logically developed must result in 
No more earnest and vigorous, and so pantheism, and a view implying a 
far as it goes, no truer defence of reli- distinction in the Divine nature, 
gion has been published in our day. which carries him far in the Trini- 
But his strength lies mainly in his tarian direction. More often he con- 
protest against what destroys religion, tents himself with leaving the specu- 
and in his uncompromising assertion lative question alone, or storming 
of what religion, as a condition of its the rational position by the forces of 
existence, demands. He has done religion and morals. See A Study of 
little to shew us how these demands Religion, vol. ii. p. 145 compared with 
can be rationally satisfied, how the p. 192. 

personal God, which religion de- 2 Newman's Arians, p. 84. 

mands, is even an intelligible idea. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 99 

and the age of biblical, as contrasted with scientific, theology. 
The only scientific theology of the Reformation period was the 
awful and immoral system of John Calvin, rigorously deduced 
from a one-sided truth. 

Then came the age of physical science. The break up of 
the mediaeval system of thought and life resulted in an 
atomism, which, if it had been more perfectly consistent with 
itself, would have been fatal alike to knowledge and society. 
Translated into science it appeared as mechanism in the 
Baconian and Cartesian physics : translated into politics it 
appeared as rampant individualism, though combined by 
Hobbes with Stuart absolutism. Its theory of knowledge 
was a crude empiricism ; its theology unrelieved deism. God 
was ' throned in magnificent inactivity in a remote corner of 
the universe,' and a machinery of ' second causes ' had practi- 
cally taken His place. It was even doubted, in the deistic age, 
whether God's delegation of His power was not so absolute as 
to make it impossible for Him to ' interfere ' with the laws of 
nature. The question of miracles became the burning question 
of the day, and the very existence of God was staked on His 
power to interrupt or override the laws of the universe. 
Meanwhile His immanence in nature, the ' higher pantheism,' 
which is a truth essential to true religion, as it is to true 
philosophy, fell into the background. 

Slowly but surely that theory of the world has been under- 
mined. The one absolutely impossible conception of God, in 
the present day, is that which represents Him as an occasional 
Visitor. Science had pushed the deist's God farther and 
farther away, and at the moment when it seemed as if He 
would be thrust out altogether, Darwinism appeared, and, 
under the disguise of a foe, did the work of a friend. It has 
conferred upon philosophy and religion an inestimable benefit, 
by shewing us that we must choose between two alternatives. 
Either God is everywhere present in nature, or He is nowhere. 
He cannot be here and not there. He cannot delegate His 
power to demigods called ' second causes V In nature 
everything must bo His work or nothing. We must frankly 

1 Cf. Fiske, Idea of God, pp. 103, 104. Martineau, A Study of Religion, ii. 1 72, 173. 

H 2 

ioo The Religion of the Incarnation. 

return to the Christian view of direct Divine agency, the 
immanence of Divine power in nature from end to end, the 
belief in a God in Whom not only we, but all things have 
their being, or we must banish Him altogether. It seems as if, 
in the providence of God, the mission of modern science 
was to bring home to our unmetaphysical ways of thinking 
the great truth of the Divine immanence in creation, which 
is not less essential to the Christian idea of God than to a 
philosophical view of nature. And it comes to us almost like 
a new truth, which we cannot at once fit it in with the old. 

Yet the conviction that the Divine immanence must be for 
our age, as for the Athanasian age, the meeting point of the 
religious and philosophic view of God is shewing itself in the 
most thoughtful minds on both sides. Our modes of thought 
are becoming increasingly Greek, and the flood, which in our 
day is surging up against the traditional Christian view of 
God, is prevailingly pantheistic in tone. The pantheism is 
not less pronounced because it comes as the last word of 
a science of nature, for the wall which once separated physics 
from metaphysics has given way, and positivism, when it is 
not the paralysis of reason, is but a temporary resting-place, 
preparatory to a new departure. We are not surprised then, 
that one who, like Professor Fiske, holds that ' the infinite and 
eternal Power that is manifested in every pulsation of the 
universe is none other than the living God/ and who vindi- 
cates the belief in a final cause because he cannot believe that 
' the Sustainer of the universe will put us to permanent intel- 
lectual confusion,' should instinctively feel his kinship with 
Athanasianism, and vigorously contend against the view that 
any part of the universe is ' Godless V 

Unfortunately, however, the rediscovery of the truth of 
God's immanence in nature, coming, as it has done, from the 
side of a scientific theory, which was violently assailed by 
the official guardians of the Faith, has resulted for many in 
the throwing aside of the counter and conditioning truth, 
which saves religion from pantheism. It seemed as if tradi- 
tional Christianity were bound up with the view that God is 
1 Idea of God, cf. v. and pp. 105-110. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 101 

wholly separate from the world and not immanent in it. 
And Professor Fiske has been misled 1 into the belief that 
S. Augustine is responsible for that false view. It is almost 
incredible to anyone, who has read any of S. Augustine's 
writings, that, according to this view, he has to play the 
role of the unintelligent and unphilosophical deist, who 
thinks of God as ' a crudely anthropomorphic Being, far 
removed from the universe and accessible only through the 
mediating offices of an organized church 2 .' And not only is 
S. Augustine represented as a deist, but S. Athanasius is made 
a pantheist, and the supposed conflict between science and 
religion is, we are told, really the conflict between Athanasian 
and Augustinian ideas of God 3 . Yet, as a matter of fact, 
S. Athanasius and S. Augustine both alike held the truths 
which deism and pantheism exaggerate into the destruction 
of religion. If S. Athanasius says, ' The Word of God is not 
contained by anything, but Himself contains all things. . . . He 
was in everything and was outside all beings, and was at rest 
in the Father alone 4 : ' S. Augustine says, ' The same God 
is wholly everywhere, contained by no space, bound by no 
bonds, divisible into no parts, mutable in no part of His 
being, filling heaven and earth by the presence of His power. 
Though nothing can exist without Him, yet nothing is what 
He is V 

The Christian doctrine of God, in Athanasian days, 
triumphed where Greek philosophy failed. It accepted the 
challenge of Greek thought, it recognised the demands of the 
speculative reason, and found in itself the answer which, 
before the collision with Hellenism, it unconsciously pos- 
sessed. It is challenged again by the metaphysics of our 
day. We may be wrong to speculate at all on the nature of 
God, but it is not less true now than in the first centuries of 
Christianity, that, for those who do speculate, a Unitarian, or 
Arian, or Sabellian theory is as impossible as polytheism. 
If God is to be Personal, as religion requires, metaphysics 

1 Apparently by Prof. Allen's Con- 4 De Tncarn. c. 17. 

tinuity of Christian Thought. 5 De Civ. Dei, vii. c. xxx ; cf. too De 

2 Fiske, Idea of God, p. 94. Gen. ad lit. iv. c. 1 2 ; Enchir. ad Laur. 

3 Ibid., vii. c. 27. 

IO2 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

demands still a distinction in the Unity which unitarianism is 
compelled to deny. But, further, the Christian doctrine of God 
is challenged by the science of nature. Science, imperiously 
and with increasing confidence, demands a unity in nature 
which shall be not external but immanent, giving rationality 
and coherence to all that is, and justifying the belief in the 
universal reign of law. But this immanence of God in nature 
Unitarian theism cannot give, save at the price of losing 
itself in pantheism. Deistic it might be, as it was in the last 
century ; deistic it can be no longer, unless it defiantly rejects 
the truth which science is giving us, and the claims which 
the scientific reason makes. 

It remains then for Christianity to claim the new truth 
and meet the new demands by a fearless reassertion of its 
doctrine of God. It has to bring forth out of its treasury 
things new and old, the old almost forgotten truth of 
the immanence of the Word, the belief in God as ' creation's 
secret force,' illuminated and confirmed as that is by the 
advance of science, till it comes to us with all the power 
of a new discovery. Slowly and under the shock of con- 
troversy Christianity is recovering its buried truths, and 
realizing the greatness of its rational heritage. It teaches 
still that God is the eternally existent One, the Being on 
Whom we depend, and in Whom we live, the source of all 
reality and the goal to which creation moves, the Object alike 
of religion and philosophy, the eternal Energy of the natural 
world, and the immanent reason of the universe. It teaches 
that He is the eternally Righteous One, and therefore the 
Judge of all, irrevocably on the side of right, leading the 
world by a progressive preparation for the revelation of 
Himself as Infinite Love in the Incarnation of the Word, stimu- 
lating those desires which He alone can satisfy, the yearning 
of the heart for love, of the moral nature for righteousness, 
of the speculative reason for truth. When men had wearied 
themselves in the search for a remedy for that which separates 
men from God, the revelation is given of Him Who ' shall 
save His people from their sins.' And when reason had wan- 
dered long, seeking for that which should be Real and yet 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 103 

One, a God Who should satisfy alike the demands of religion 
and reason, the doctrine of the Trinity is unfolded. It was 
the gradual revelation of God answering to the growing needs 
and capacity of man. 

VIII. It follows from the point of view adopted in the fore- 
going essay that there can be no proofs, in the strict sense 
of the word, of the existence of God. Reason has for its 
subject-matter, the problem of essence, not of existence, the 
question, ' What is God 1 ' not ' Is there a God ? ' Proof can 
only mean verification d posteriori of a truth already held. 
We approach the problem with an unreasoned conscious- 
ness of dependence on a Being or Beings who are to us 
invisible. This we interpret crudely, or leave uninterpreted. 
The belief may express itself in ancestor- worship, or nature- 
worship, or what not. But as our moral and intellectual 
nature develops, its light is turned back upon this primi- 
tive undefined belief. Conscience demands that God shall 
be moral, and with the belief that He is, there comes con- 
fidence and trust, deepening into faith and hope and love : 
the speculative reason demands that God shall be One, the 
immanent unity of all that is. And the doctrine of God, which 
is best able to satisfy each and all of these demands, persists 
as the permanent truth of religion. But neither conscience 
nor the speculative reason can demonstrate 1 God's existence. 
And it is always possible for men to carry their distrust of 
that which is instinctive so far as to assume that it is always 
false because they have found that it is not always true. 
Reason cannot prove existence. The so-called proof, a con- 
tingentia (which underlies H. Spencer's argument for the 
existence of the Unknowable), is an appeal to that very con- 
sciousness of dependence which some people consider a weak- 
ness, and a thing to educate themselves out of. The appeal 
to the consensus gentium can establish only the generality, 
not the strict universality, of religion. It will always be 
possible to find exceptions, real or apparent, to the general 

1 S. Thos. Aq. Sum. Theol. I. i. that he does not mean strict demon- 
Quaest. 2, says that the Existence of stration, demonstratio apodeictica, but de- 
God is demonstrable, but he explains monstratio ab effectibus. 


IO4 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

rule ; while as for what is known as the ontological argu- 
ment, which on principles of reason would justify the in- 
stinctive belief, it requires a metaphysical training to under- 
stand it or at least to feel its force. There remain, however, 
the two great arguments from conscience and from nature, 
which are so frequently discussed in the present day. 

With regard to the first, there is no doubt that the belief in 
God will in any age find its strongest corroboration in the 
conscience. Even in the mind of a Felix the ideas of ' right- 
eousness, temperance, and judgment to come ' had a strange 
and terrifying coherence. There is that much of truth in the 
statement that religion is founded in ' fear.' But the argument 
from conscience has been weakened by being overstated. 
Conscience, as we know it, has won, not indeed its existence, 
but the delicacy of its moral touch, and the strength of its 
' categorical imperative/ from the assured belief in a real 
relationship between man and a holy and loving God. When 
that belief has ceased to exist, conscience still survives, and 
it is possible and justifiable to appeal to it as a fact which 
can be explained by religion, but without religion must be 
explained away. But it is a mistake to suppose that we can 
take the untrained and undeveloped conscience, and argue 
direct from it to a righteous God. The lumen naturale, in 
its lowest development, gives but a faint and flickering 
gleam. We cannot argue back from it to a God of love, or 
even a God of righteousness, unless we interpret it in the 
fuller light of the conscience which has been trained and 
perfected under the growing influence of the belief. The idea 
of ' duty,' which is so hard to explain on utilitarian grounds, 
is not to be found, as we know it, in Greek ethics. For it 
implies a fusion of morals with religion, as we can trace it in 
the history of Israel, and the teaching of Christian ethics. 
If it is impossible to explain duty as the result of association 
between the ideas of public and private advantage, it is no 
less impossible to make it an independent premiss for a con- 
clusion which is presupposed in it. 

The argument from nature is closely parallel. It is hard 
for those, whose lives have been moulded on the belief in 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 105 

God, the Maker of heaven and earth, to understand the incon- 
clusiveness of the argument to those who have abandoned 
that belief, and start, as it were, from outside. Consequently 
it has been made to bear more than it can carry. No doubt 
the evolution which was at first supposed to have destroyed 
teleology is found to be more saturated with teleology than 
the view which it superseded. And Christianity can take up 
the new as it did the old, and find in it a confirmation of its 
own belief. But it is a confirmation not a proof, and taken 
by itself is incomplete. It is a great gain to have eliminated 
chance, to find science declaring that there must be a reason 
for everything, even when it cannot hazard a conjecture as 
to what the reason is. But apart from the belief of our 
moral nature, that in the long run everything must make 
for righteousness, that the world must be moral as well as 
rational, and that the dramatic tendency in the evolution of 
the whole would be irrational if it had not a moral goal, the 
science of nature is powerless to carry us on to a Personal 
God. But the strength of a rope is greater than the strength 
of its separate strands. The arguments for the existence of 
God are, it has been said, ' sufficient not resistless, convincing 
not compelling V We can never demonstrate the existence of 
God either from conscience or from nature. But our belief 
in Him is attested and confirmed by both. 

In this matter, the belief in God stands on the same level 
with the belief in objective reality. Both have been explained 
away by philosophers. Neither can be proved but by a 
circular argument. Both persist in the consciousness of 
mankind. Both have been purified and rationalized by the 
growth of knowledge. But the moment reason attempts to 
start without assumptions, and claims exclusive sovereignty 
over man, a paralysis of thought results. There have been, 
before now, philosophers who professed to begin at the be- 
ginning, and accept nothing till it was proved, and the result 
was a pure Pyrrhonism. They could not prove the existence 
of an external world. They believed it, even if they did not, 
like Hume, exult in the fact that belief triumphed over 

1 The Existence of God. By Rev. R. F. Clarke, S.J., p. 6. 

io6 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

demonstration, but there was no sure ground for believing 
that the world was not a mere cerebral phenomenon, except 
the curiously rational coherence of its visions. Even Prof. 
Huxley, in his ultra-sceptical moods, admits this. He says x 
that ' for any demonstration that can be given to the contrary 
effect, the " collection of perceptions," which makes up our 
consciousness, may be an orderly phantasmagoria generated 
by the Ego, unfolding its successive scenes on the background 
of the abyss of nothingness.' But no one, least of all a man 
of science, believes this to be so. He takes reality for granted, 
and only tries to interpret it aright, i. e. in such a way as to 
make a rational unity of the facts perceived. Tell a scien- 
tific specialist, ' I am not going to let you beg the question. 
You must first prove that nature exists, and then I will hear 
about the science of nature,' and he will say ' That is meta- 
physics,' which to him is probably a synonym for an intel- 
lectual waste of time. ' Look at nature,' he will say, ' what 
more do you want 1 If nature had been merely a phantas- 
magoria there would have been no science of nature. Of 
course you must make your " act of faith 2 ." You must believe 
not only that nature exists, but that it is a cosmos which can 
be interpreted, if you can only find the key. The proof that 
nature is interpretable is that we have, at least in part, been 
able to interpret her. There were people in John Locke's day 
who professed to doubt their own existence, and he was 
content to answer them according to their folly. "If any- 
one," he says 3 , " pretends to be so sceptical as to deny his 
own existence (for really to doubt of it is manifestly impos- 
sible) let him, for me, enjoy his beloved happiness of being 
nothing, until hunger, or some other pain, convince him to 
the contrary." ' We do not call a scientific man unreasonable 
if he answers thus, though he is justifying his premisses by 
his conclusion. We know that he that would study nature 

1 Huxley's Hume, p. 81. act of faith, because, by the nature of 

a ' The one act of faith in the con- the case, the truth of such proposi- 

vert to science, is the confession of tions is not susceptible of proof.' 

the universality of order and of the Huxley in Darwin's Life and Letters, 

absolute validity, in all times and vol. ii. p. 200. 

under all circumstances, of the law 3 Essay IV. 10. 2. 

of causation. This confession is an 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 107 

must believe that it is, and that it is a rational whole which 
reason can interpret. And ' he that cometh to God must 
believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of such as 
diligently seek Him.' We feel our kinship with both before 
the instinctive consciousness is justified by reason. 

And there is a remarkable parallelism in the process of 
verification. The counterpart of the theological belief in the 
unity and omnipresence of God is the scientific belief in the 
unity of nature and the reign of law. But that belief, though 
implicit in the simplest operation of reason 1 , is not con- 
sciously attained till late in the history of science. And even 
when it is reached, it is not at once grasped in all its wealth 
and fulness. It is thought of as mere uniformity, a dull 
mechanical repetition of events, which is powerless to explain 
or include the rich variety of nature and the phenomena of 
life and growth. It is to meet this difficulty that J. S. Mill 
naively assures us that ' the course of nature is not only 
uniform, it is also infinitely various 2 .' But soon the truth is 
grasped, that the reign of law is a unity which is higher than 
mere uniformity, because it is living and not dead, and 
includes and transcends difference. It is the analogue in 
science to that higher and fuller view of God in which He is 
revealed as Trinity in Unity. 

But as these parallel processes of verification go on, the 
truth is forced upon the world that religion and philosophy 
must either be in internecine conflict, or recognise the oneness 
of their Object. 'We and the philosophers,' says S. Cle- 
ment, ' know the same God, but not in the same way V 
Philosophy and religion have both been enriched by wider 
knowledge, and as their knowledge has become deeper and 
fuller, the adjustment of their claims has become more impera- 
tively necessary. Few in our day would willingly abandon 
either, or deliberately sacrifice one to the other. Many would 
be ready to assent to the words of a Christian Father ; ' when 
philosophy and the worship of the gods are so widely 
separated, that the professors of wisdom cannot bring us 

1 Cf. Green's Works, vol. ii. p. 284. 
2 Log. Bk. III. ch. iii. 2. 3 Strom, vi. 5. 

io8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

near to the gods, and the priests of religion cannot give us 
wisdom ; it is manifest that the one is not true wisdom, and 
the other is not true religion. Therefore neither is philo- 
sophy able to conceive the truth, nor is religion able to 
justify itself. But where philosophy is joined by an insepar- 
able connection with religion, both must necessarily be 
true, because in our religion we ought to be wise, that is, 
to know the true Object and mode of worship, and in our 
wisdom to worship, that is, to realize in action what we 
know V 

It is sometimes argued, You have let in more than the 
thin end of the wedge. You admit that ' it is the province 
of reason to judge of the morality of the Scripture 2 .' You 
profess no antagonism to historical and literary criticism. 
Under the criticism of reason, Fetichism has given way to 
Polytheism, Polytheism to Monotheism, even Monotheism has 
become progressively less anthropomorphic. Why object to 
the last step in the process, and cling to the belief in a 
Personal God ? Simply because it would make the difference 
between a religion purified and a religion destroyed. The 
difference between the 30,000 gods of Hesiod,and the One God of 
Christianity, is a measurable difference : the difference between 
a Personal God and an impersonal reason is, so far as religion 
is concerned, infinite. For the transition from Monotheism, to 
Pantheism is made only by the surrender of religion, though 
the term ' theism ' may be used to blur the line of separation, 
and make the transition easy. 

Religion has, before all things, to guard the heritage of truth, 
the moral revelation of God in Christ, to ' contend earnestly 
for the faith once delivered to the saints,' and to trust to the 
promised guidance of the Spirit of Truth. And reason inter- 
prets religion to itself, and by interpreting verifies and con- 
firms. Religion therefore claims as its own the new light 
which metaphysics and science are in our day throwing upon 
the truth of the immanence of God : it protests only against 
those imperfect, because premature, syntheses, which in the 

1 Lact. Institt. IV. iii. 

2 Butler's Analogy, Pt. II. ch. hi. p. 183. 

ii. The Christian Doctrine of God. 109 

interests of abstract speculation, would destroy religion. It 
dares to maintain that ' the Fountain of wisdom and religion 
alike is God : and if these two streams shall turn aside from 
Him, both must assuredly run dry.' For human nature craves 
to be both religious and rational. And the life which is not 
both is neither. 





THE problem of pain, always prominent in a sensitive age, 
has been exceptionally emphasized in the literature of modern 
pessimism as an objection to Theism in general, and Chris- 
tianity in particular. The existence of pain is urged as in- 
compatible with the belief in a God who is at once omnipotent 
and benevolent, that is with Theism in its ordinary form ; 
while Christianity is further charged with being a religion 
of pain, a religion which has increased the sum of actual, and 
the expectation of prospective pain, darkening the shadow 
that lies upon our race. Suffering is not a subject upon 
which anything new can be said. It has long ago been 
probed, to the utmost limit of our capacity, and remains a 
mystery still. But, in face of the adverse use now made of 
it, it may be well to bear in mind how much has been said 
and is to be said upon the other side. 

To begin with, there are two classes of pain, animal and 
human, which however intimately they may be connected 
must, for clearness, be considered apart. The universality of 
pain throughout the range of the animal world, reaching back 
into the distant ages of geology, and involved in the very 
structure of the animal organism, is without doubt among 
the most serious problems which the Theist has to face. But 
it is a problem in dealing with which emotion is very often 
mistaken for logic. J. S. Mill's famous indictment of nature, 
for example, is one of the most emotional pieces of rhetoric of 
which a professed logician was ever guilty. When a certain 
class of facts is urged in objection to our Christian belief, we 

ii4 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

are entitled to ask how many of those facts are known, and 
how many are only imagined. There is of course a scientific 
use of the imagination, but it is only permissible within the 
bounds of possible, or at least conceivable, verification. Imagi- 
native conjectures which, from the nature of the case, will 
never admit either of verification or disproof are poetry and 
not science, and must be treated as such in argument. With 
all the changes that have passed over our knowledge, we may 
still do well to attend to the caution with which Butler begins 
his Analogy : 

' One cannot but be greatly sensible how difficult it is to 
silence imagination enough to make the voice of reason even 
distinctly heard ; as we are accustomed from our youth up to 
indulge that forward delusive faculty, ever obtruding beyond 
its sphere ; of some assistance indeed to apprehension, but the 
author of all error : as we plainly lose ourselves in gross and 
crude conceptions of things, taking for granted that we are 
acquainted with what indeed we are wholly ignorant of.' 

This needs repeating, because much of the popular knowledge 
of the day consists in the acceptance of results without ex- 
amination of the methods of their attainment ; somewhat as, 
in the countryman's simple faith, a thing must needs be true 
because he has seen it in a book. While the case in point is 
further confused by the fact that imagination has an impor- 
tant bearing on all our conduct towards the lower animals, 
and cannot, for that purpose, be too emotionally developed. 
But it is one thing to err on the safe side in practice, and an- 
other to convert such possible error into argument. 

What then do we really know about the suffering of 
animals'? No reasonable man doubts that they suffer. But 
the degree and intensity of their suffering is almost entirely 
a matter of conjecture. We speak of, and are affected by the 
mass of animal suffering; but we must remember that it is 
felt distributively. No one animal suffers more because a 
million suffer likewise. And what we have to consider is the 
amount which an individual animal suffers. We have no 
knowledge, but we are entitled to meet conjecture by conjec- 
ture. We may fairly suppose that the animals do not ' look 

in. The Problem of Pain. 1 1 5 

before and after,' and it is this that gives its sting to human 
pain. Again, they would seem like children to give strong 
indications of slight pain. Further, many muscular contor- 
tions which simulate extreme suffering are believed on scien- 
tific evidence to be due to quite other causes. And then there 
are the phenomena of fascination, which may well resemble 
the experience of Livingstone in the lion's mouth. While 
many pains are prophylactic and directly contribute to the 
avoidance of danger and maintenance of life. All these con- 
siderations may mitigate our view of animal suffering. But 
a stronger argument is to be drawn from our profound ignor- 
ance of the whole question. Animals can perceive colours 
invisible to us ; they seem to have organs of sensation of 
whose nature we know nothing ; their instincts are far more 
numerous and finer than our own ; what compensations may 
they not have 1 Again, what are they "? Had they a past 1 
May they not have a future 1 ? What is the relation of their 
consciousness to the mighty life which pulses within the uni- 
verse ? May not Eastern speculation about these things be 
nearer the truth than Western science? All these questions 
are in the region of the unknown, and the unknowable ; and 
in face of them the Theistic position is simply this. We be- 
lieve, on complex and cumulative proof, in an omnipotent and 
benevolent Creator. That belief is a positive verdict of our 
reason, interpreting evidence which we consider irresistible. 
And against such a conclusion no presumption of the imagi- 
nation, which from the nature of the case cannot possibly be 
verified, has any logical validity at all : not to mention that 
such presumptions admit of being met by as probable pre- 
sumptions on the other side. We decline to arraign our 
Creator for a deed which we have not even the means of 
knowing that He has done. 

' All difficulties as to how they (the animals) are to be dis- 
posed of are so apparently and wholly founded in our ignor- 
ance that it is wonderful they should be insisted upon by any 
but such as are weak enough to think they are acquainted 
with the whole system of things.' . . . . ' What men require is 
to have all difficulties cleared ; and this is, or at least for 

i 2 

n 6 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

anything we know to the contrary it may be, the same as 
requiring to comprehend the Divine nature, and the whole 
plan of providence from everlasting to everlasting V 

But with human suffering the case is different, for here we 
are in a measure behind the scenes. We watch the process 
no longer from the outside but from within ; and though it 
still remains mysterious, its mystery is full of meaning. In 
saying this we make two assumptions ; first, that moral evil 
is an ultimate fact for us, in our present state of being, in the 
sense that it can neither be explained nor explained away : 
and, secondly, that character and not pleasure, being, and not 
feeling, or to phrase it more generally, the greatest goodness 
of the greatest number, is the primary end of ethics. The first 
of these assumptions most men are willing to admit, while the 
few philosophical attempts to disprove it have conspicuously 
failed. The second has the assent of all moralists except the 
hedonists, and those who without being aware of it are 
hedonists in disguise ; the pessimism, for example, which 
makes so much of pain, being simply disappointed hedonism. 
Starting then from these premises, the problem of practical 
ethics is the formation of character in the face of moral evil. 
And in the solution of this problem pain and sorrow have a 
place which no other known agency conceivably could fill. 

To begin with its simplest if lowest aspect, pain is a 
punishment ; and without importing any a priori notions 
into the question, we find punishment to be a necessary ele- 
ment in the evolution of character. Punishment is a complex 
thing, and the tendency of civilization is to lay stress upon its 
corrective rather than its vindictive aspect. But we must 
remember that with uncivilized races this cannot be the case ; 
and that pains and penalties, considered simply as retrospec- 
tive vengeance for the past, have been historically, and in 
some cases still are, essential to our social development. 
Indeed, it is a shallow view that regards vengeance as a 
survival of savagery. Vengeance is intimately bound up 
with our sense of justice, and the true difference between the 
savage and the sage is that what the one eagerly inflicts upon 

1 Butler, Analogy. 

in. The Problem of Pain. 1 1 7 

his neighbour, the other would far more willingly inflict upon 
himself. Plato expressed this once for all when he said that 
the sinner who is punished is happier than the sinner who 
escapes scot free. We rightly shrink, as far as possible, from 
sitting in judgment on our fellow-men ; but we feel none the 
less that our own ill deeds demand a penalty, which may 
vary from bodily suffering to interior shame, but which in 
one form or another must be endured before we can recover 
our self-respect. And self-respect is a necessary factor in all 
moral progress. Punishment, then, considered as vengeance, 
is a necessity for the social development of barbarous races ; 
and though less obviously, quite as really for the personal 
progress of the civilized man. 

Now, without committing ourselves to the statement that 
suffering was introduced into the world by sin, which is not 
a Christian dogma, though it is often thought to be so, a vast 
amount of the suffering in the world is obviously punishment, 
and punishment of a very searching kind. For not only are 
obvious vices punished with remorse, and disease, and shame, 
but ignorance, impatience, carelessness, even mistakes of judg- 
ment are punished too, and that in a degree which we are apt 
to consider disproportionate ; forgetful that consequences are 
God's commentaries, and this apparent disproportion may 
reflect light upon the real magnitude of what we often are 
too ready to consider trivial things. 

But these punishments, it is urged, fall on the innocent as 
well as the guilty. And this leads us to another point of 
view. Pain is not only punitive. It is also corrective and 
purgatorial. And this again is a fact of ordinary experience, 
quite apart from the further consideration of why it should be 
so. Among primitive races the penalties of law, by the merely 
mechanical process of forcibly restraining certain actions, 
slowly elevate the social tone. And as men rise in the scale 
of development and begin to be a law to themselves, the same 
process is continued within the individual mind. The pains 
and penalties of evil doing, physical and mental, tend to 
correct and purify the character ; and when we say that men 
learn wisdom by experience, we mostly mean by experience of 

1 1 8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

something painful. Of course, the most obvious form of this 
correction is that in which the suffering can be recognised by 
the sufferer as merited, because due to his own misdeeds. But 
apart from such causal connection, what we call unmerited 
suffering exercises the same influence in an even greater 
measure. Its forces, not being exhausted in the work of 
neutralising past evil, are able to expand and expend them- 
selves in a positive direction, elevating, refining, dignifying 
the character to an infinite degree. The men of sorrows are 
the men of influence in every walk of life. Martyrdom is the 
certain road to success in any cause. Even more than know- 
ledge, pain is power. And all this because it develops the 
latent capacities of our being as no other influence can. It 
requires no mystic insight to see the truth of this. However 
unable we may be to account for it, it is a fact of everyday 
experience, visible to ordinary common sense. And this being 
so, there is nothing of necessity unjust in what we call un- 
merited suffering, not even in the sad inheritance by children 
of the results of parental sin. For while the sight of the 
miserable entail may, if rightly used, become the parent's 
punishment, its imposition may be the child's call to higher 
things. True, like all other useful agencies, it often fails of 
its end ; but such failure is of the problem of evil, not of the 
problem of pain. 

And, lastly, with men, as with animals, suffering is largely 
prophylactic. Bodily pain sounds the alarm bell of disease in 
time for its removal. Mental and moral pain arrest the 
issues of ignorant or evil courses before it is too late. While 
the desire to remove pain from ourselves, or better still from 
others, is among the strongest incentives of the scientific dis- 
coverer, the patriot, the philanthropist. And though it may 
seem a fallacy to credit pain with the virtues which spring 
from the desire for its removal, common sense rises above 
logic and recognises the real value of a spur without which 
many of our noblest activities would cease. 

Now, though all these considerations naturally lead on into 
theology for their further treatment, yet it should be noticed 
that they are in no sense exclusively theological. The penal, 

in. The Problem of Pain. 119 

the corrective, the preventive, and the stimulating uses of pain 
are all recognised in the average man's philosophy of life. 
Indeed, they are too obvious to need dwelling on at any length. 
But the point to be noticed is, that taken together, they cover a 
very great deal of ground. For it is hardly too much to say that 
in one or other of its various aspects, every human being has 
need of suffering for the due development of his character. And 
this is a fact which should go far to outweigh much brilliant 
declamation of the pessimists. Pessimism, in fact, stereotypes 
and gives a fictitious permanence to what is only one among 
our many moods of thought. It harps upon the fact that we 
naturally shrink from pain. It ignores the fact that we are 
conscious of being the better for it, and unable to conceive 
progress without it. And though these considerations afford 
no solution to the speculative mystery of pain, they make in 
the direction of a speculative solution. They do not explain 
why pain exists, but they shew us that its existence, in the 
only region in which we can really test it, is eminently useful, 
and therefore consistent with providential and beneficent 
design. Their precise logical relation to the Theistic argument 
might be put as follows : Arguments drawn from many 
departments of life and thought converge in favour of Theism, 
but one large and important department, that of human 
suffering, blocks the way. When, however, we isolate and 
examine that department, we find that even within its limits 
the evidence of provident purpose is prominent, if not prepon- 
derant. Its prominence is certainly enough to neutralize the 
negative bearing of the department upon the general argu- 
ment. Its preponderance, which many if not most men would 
admit, carries us further and makes the net evidence of the 
whole department an affirmative contribution to Theism. 

So far common sense carries us. But when we turn to the 
place of pain in the religions of the world, two further 
thoughts are suggested. In the first place, the belief in a 
future life, which is common to almost all religions, at once 
opens endless vistas of possibility before us. The pain which 
has failed to purify here, may yet purify hereafter ; the high- 
handed wrong-doing, which has seemed to go unpunished here, 

1 20 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

may there meet with its righteous due. The pains which we 
have thought excessive here, may there be found to have 
worked out for us a far more exceeding weight of glory. And 
so the particular difficulty which arises from the unequal 
incidence of earthly suffering may one day find its adequate 
solution. No doubt there is an element of truth in the 
familiar taunt that belief in a future life has been a curse as 
well as a blessing to the world. In some stages of culture, 
for example, the future life has been supposed only to em- 
phasize the inequalities of the present : the slave living on in 
everlasting slavery, and the warrior in incessant war. But 
this has been a partial and a passing phase of thought, which 
rapidly gave way before more ethical conceptions. The ethical 
conceptions in their turn, which were based on future rewards 
and punishments, confessedly could not produce a very high 
type of morality. But they have filled their place, and that a 
large one in the history of human development, while even 
after ceasing to be the dominant motives, they still witness 
to the ineradicable expectation, of our race, that holiness and 
happiness, sin and failure, shall one day coincide. More 
serious and sad is the fact that distorted dreams of future 
punishment have often reflected a lurid light upon the whole 
of life ; goading zealots into cruelty, sinners into madness, 
thinkers into unbelief; and have lingered on, as savage sur- 
vivals, even into Christian times, to the hopeless obscuration, 
in many minds, of the creed that God is Love. But even here 
we must draw distinctions. Early races express intensity by 
an accumulation of material metaphors fecundity by an 
hundred breasts, omnipotence and omniscience by an hundred 
arms or a thousand eyes. And so, when they saw the un- 
righteous man enjoy the fruits of his unrighteousness, and 
die in unrebuked defiance of laws human and divine, their 
sense of outraged justice could not but express itself in 
terms of material horror. We have grown to be more pitiful, 
more refined in our moral thinking, less dogmatic about un- 
known things : yet neither our moral experience nor our 
Christianity has availed to remove the dread of that unutter- 
able 'pain of loss,' which the passing of a soul in obdurate 

in. The Problem of Pain. 1 2 1 

impenitence has ever suggested to the mind of man. And 
however confidently therefore we may put aside the dis- 
tortions, and debasements, and interested exaggerations which 
have darkened the thought of future punishment, we must 
remember that the thought itself was no alien introduction 
into history; but due to the instinctive craving of the human 
heart for justice; man's own tremendous verdict on his sin 1 . 
But the universality, or at least extreme generality of the 
belief in a continued existence, is quite distinct from the 
particular pictures of it which the imagination has variously 
drawn ; much as the universality of conscience is distinct from 
its varying content among diverse races and in different ages. 
And the broad fact remains that from the dawn of history 
the majority of mankind have believed in and looked with 
confidence to a future life to rectify, and therefore justify, the 
inequalities of earthly suffering ; however much their views 
have varied as to what should constitute rectification. 

Secondly, there is an instinctive tendency in all religions, 
from the savage upwards, to view pain, whether in the form 
of asceticism or sacrifice, as inseparably connected with an 
acceptable service of the gods or God. The asceticism of poor 
Caliban foregoing his little mess of whelks, and that of the 
Hindoo whose meritorious sufferings are expected to prevail, 
by intrinsic right with heaven ; the hideous holocausts of 
Mexico, and the paper substitutes for offerings of the parsi- 
monious or hypocritical Chinee are widely different things. 
But they all spring from a common instinct, variously dis- 
torted, yet persistent through all distortions, and progressively 
refined, till it culminates in the Hebrew substitution of the 
broken heart for the blood of bulls and of goats. It is the 
custom of some modern writers to represent the higher forms 
of sacrifice as merely survivals of the savage desire to pro- 
pitiate the gods by food. But this is not an adequate analysis 
even of the savage creed. Naturally enough the primitive 
hunter, to whom food is the chief good, may think food the 
worthiest offering to the gods. But it is not simply food, but 
his own food, that he offers, the choicest morsel, that which it 
1 Cf. pp. 514-16. 

122 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

costs him something to forego. In other words, the root of 
sacrifice is self-sacrifice, however crudely it may be expressed. 
Of course, the primitive hypocrite would seek to evade personal 
suffering as naturally as the civilized hypocrite will give alms 
at another man's expense. But sincerity must come before 
hypocrisy, and the sacrificial instinct is in origin sincere. Its 
first account of itself may be irrational, and its earlier mani- 
festations often blundering and repulsive ; and if it were now 
only a survival, the same should be true of its later forms, for 
survivals are not commonly improved in the process of surviv- 
ing. But so far from this being the case, it has been refined 
by successive developments and is as integral an element of 
later as of earlier religions, being in fact the symbolic state- 
ment that a more or less painful self-surrender is the necessary 
condition of all human approach to the divine. Natural 
religion then, in the widest use of the term, carries us on 
beyond common sense, in attributing a mysterious value to 
suffering here, and expecting an explanation of its anomalies 
hereafter. The first belief may be called mystical, the second 
hypothetical, and yet the two together have done more to 
reconcile man to his burden of sorrow than all the philosophic 
comments on the uses of adversity ; for they have seemed to 
lift him, though blindfold, into a loftier region, where he felt 
himself inbreathing power from on high. And so here, as in 
other things, natural religion leads on into Christianity. 

The relation of Christianity to the problem of pain, may be 
best seen by contrasting it with the empirical optimism of 
common sense. Enlightened common sense, as we have seen, 
is fully aware of the uses of sorrow ; but it looks at the use- 
fulness through the sorrowfulness, as a compensation which 
should make the wise man content to bear his pain. The 
change which Christianity has effected consists in the reversal 
of this view of the subject. Once for all, it has put the value 
before the painfulness in our thoughts. The Author and 
Finisher of our faith, ' for the joy that was set before Him, 
endured the Cross, despising the shame,' and ' our light afflic- 
tion, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more 
exceeding weight of glory, while we look not at the things 

in. The Problem of Pain. 123 

which are seen but at the things which are unseen.' It bids 
us not wait ' till the sorrow comes with years,' but take up 
our cross, from the first moment of our conscious discipleship. 
And accordingly the real Christian looks at sorrow not from 
without, but from within, and does not approach its specula- 
tive difficulty till he is aware by experience of its practical 
power. Consequently he cannot explain himself to the merely 
external critic. He may urge in argument such general con- 
siderations as have been touched upon above, and meet the 
pleas of pessimism with the counterpleas of philosophic optim- 
ism ; but if pressed for the inner secret of his own serenity, 
he can only answer with the esoteric invitation, ' Come and 
see.' Enter the dim sanctuary of sorrow through the shadow 
of the Cross. Abide there, and as your eyes grow accustomed 
to the darkness, the strange lines upon its walls which seemed 
at first so meaningless, will group themselves into shapes and 
forms of purposeful design. 

Once for all the sinless suffering of the Cross has parted 
sin from suffering with a clearness of distinction never before 
achieved. The intellectual Greek had tended to confuse the 
two as kindred forms of ignorance ; the weary Oriental as 
kindred consequences of our imprisonment in the body, ' the 
too too solid flesh ;' the self-righteous Jew viewed blindness, 
or death from a falling tower, as evidence of exceptional sin. 
Everywhere in the ancient world the outlines of the two were 
undefined, and their true relation of antagonism misunder- 
stood. But the sight of perfect sinlessness, combined with 
perfect suffering, has cleared our view for ever. Sin indeed 
always brings suffering in its train, but the suffering we now 
see to be of the nature of its antidote ; an antidote often ap- 
plied indeed with inexorable sternness, but in its intention 
wholly merciful. Thus every sin has its appropriate suffering. 
Bodily indulgence brings bodily disease ; cruelty ends in 
cowardice ; pride and vanity in shame. And though the 
suffering of itself cannot convert the sinner, it can and does 
prevent both the gratification and contagion of the sin. 
Then comes the more terrible sorrow of remorse ; and remorse 
is potential penitence, and penitence potential purification 

124 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

But while sin thus involves suffering, suffering does not in- 
volve sin. It is not only an antidote, but one of those anti- 
dotes which taken in time is prophylactic. And this is not 
only true of the pains of self-denial and self-sacrifice, the 
voluntary bearing of the cross, but of many an involuntary 
sorrow also. Delicate health, Plato's bridle of Theages, in- 
herited pain, privation, bereavement, may all refine the char- 
acter and train the spiritual eye to that purity of heart that 
shall see God. Pain in fact, in its manifold methods, is like 
the angel of the Eastern story, changing its form incessantly 
to cope with the shifting shapes of sin, and passing by turns 
into a lion, a bird, a sword, a flood, a flame, in sleepless eager- 
ness to follow and find, and slay and quench and burn away 
the least last lingering particle of evil. So far from being our 
enemy it is our safest ally in the battle of life, and we fail 
through shrinking from the stern alliance. We suffer because 
we sin ; but we also sin because we decline to suffer. 

Still, the very sharpness of the severance between sin and 
suffering on the Cross forces upon us the further question 
Why should the sinless suffer 1 The vicarious suffering of 
Christ is said to conflict with our sense of justice. And it 
does so, as misrepresented in much popular theology. But 
rightly viewed, it is the climax and complete expression of the 
process to which we owe the entire evolution of our race. 
The pleasures of each generation evaporate in air ; it is their 
pains that increase the spiritual momentum of the world. 
We enter into life through the travail of another. We live 
upon the death of the animals beneath us. The necessities, 
the comforts, the luxuries of our existence are provided by 
the labour and sorrow of countless fellow-men. Our freedom, 
our laws, our literature, our spiritual sustenance have been 
won for us at the cost of broken hearts, and wearied brains, 
and noble lives laid down. And this is only the human 
analogue of that transference of energy by which all life 
and movement is for ever carried on. The sun is so much 
the cooler by the heat it daily gives to earth ; the plant and 
tree the weaker by the force that has matured their fruit ; 
the animal generations exhausted in continuing their kind. 

in. The Problem of Pain. 125 

And how should their Creator draw all men unto Him, but 
through the instrumentality of His own great law of sacrifice ? 
If we shrink from our share in the conditions of the solemn 
legacy, it is easy to persuade ourselves that the system of 
things is wrong. But if we accept it, and resolve that we 
too in our turn will spend and be spent for others, we find 
beneath all the superficial suffering the deep truth of the 
benediction, ' It is more blessed to give than to receive.' And 
in the experience of that benediction we see further still into 
the mysterious significance of sorrow. 

Further ; but not yet to the end. For the human heart 
desires more than merely to work for others. It desires to 
be one with those for whom it works. Love is the highest 
form of that unity ; but even short of actual love, we in- 
stinctively crave communion and sympathy with our kind. 
And it is no morbid view of life to say that sorrow brings 
about this union in a way that joy does not. There is some- 
thing, under our present conditions, in the very expansiveness 
of joy which dissociates, while sorrow seems to weld us, like 
hammer strokes on steel. It is the nationality whose mem- 
bers have together struggled for existence, the soldiers who 
have faced the shock of battle side by side, the persecuted 
party, the husband and wife who have known common suf- 
fering that are most intimately, indissolubly one. Nor is this 
union merely negative like the bond which fellow-prisoners 
feel, and yet would eagerly escape from if they could. It is 
due to a distinct sense that the common crisis has aroused all 
that is highest and noblest and most spiritual, and therefore 
most sympathetic in the soul. 

But again, it is only in the light from the Cross, that we 
can see why pain should possess this power. For in that 
light we understand how pain unites us to each other, be- 
cause, as even natural religion dimly felt, it unites us to God, 
and therefore through Him to those who in Him live and 
move and have their being. It unites us to God because it 
purifies us, because it detaches us from earth, because it 
quickens our sense of dependence, because it opens our spiri- 
tual vision, and above all because He too, as man, has suffered. 

126 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

But the mystics who have seen furthest into heavenly things 
have felt that it unites us to God in still more vital wise, as 
being, at least in its form of sacrifice, the very beating of the 
heart of love. And so they have raised the question, Has it 
not an antitype far in the illimitable depths of the unseen ? 
For we are told that God is Love ; and love, as we know it, 
must be shewn in sacrifice ; though the sacrifice grows pain- 
less in proportion as the love is pure. And when we recall 
how in the days of our Lord's ministry on earth, Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit bore their witness each to other, but no one 
of the Holy Persons ever to Himself, we are led on to wonder 
whether ' in the light that no man can approach unto,' where 
the Three are One, some higher analogue of what we call sacri- 
fice does not for ever flame ; whose radiant reflection on the 
universe only becomes shadow when it falls on a world of sin. 
But however these high things may be, the simplest Christian 
feels and knows that, in his present state, the unitive way, 
the way to union" with both God and man, is the ' via dolo- 
rosa,' the way of the cross : a serious and solemn belief, which 
is very far from leading to complacency, in presence of the 
awful spectacle of animal and human pain ; but still is based 
on sufficient experience to justify the hope that all its mystery 
will be one day solved. More than this we do not expect, for 
the intellect, in our Christian view, is as much on its proba- 
tion and as liable to error as the will ; and inordinate curiosity 
not less misleading than inordinate desire. 






THE paradox of Divine mystery implied in the words 
' The Word was made flesh/ is not exhausted by a right 
understanding of the Person of Christ. It extends to the 
relations between Christ and History. On the one hand, the 
Incarnation of the Son of God appears as supreme, solitary, 
unique, transcending all analogies of experience, all limitations 
of nationality or generation, determined before the world was, 
beyond the power of any antecedents to produce, the entry 
of a new thing into the world. It appears, in short, as a 
miracle. But, on the other hand, it appears as an historical 
event, occurring at a particular date, appealing to the feelings 
and fulfilling the hopes of the time, a climax and a new point 
of departure in the historical order. It does this, necessarily, 
because this is involved in the act of taking flesh, of entering 
simply, literally, naturally into the conditions of human life. 
Such a thing occurs, and must occur, in the natural order. 
To say this is not to dictate what a Divine revelation must 
be, but only to shew what Christianity asserts of itself. In 
this way it was good in God's sight that His revelation 
should come. 

It follows from this, in the first place, that there must be 
two ways, both valid and necessary, of approaching in thought 
and study Christ manifest in the flesh. We may treat the 
fact of His appearing with little or no reference to historical 
relations, for its own inherent unchanging truth and mean- 
ing. We may also treat it as clothed in historical event, 


130 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

to be understood in its relations with what went before 
and followed after and stood around. The two methods 
supplement one another. It may be true that the simple 
personal claim which the solitary figure of Jesus Christ makes 
upon us, by its unalterable moral dignity and beauty, its 
typical humanity, its unearthly authority, is the strongest 
that can be made : none the less may that claim be confirmed 
and reinforced if we see the same figure as it were upon an 
historical throne ; if it should become clear that what went 
before (and what followed after) does, in any way, pay homage 
to Him ; if the manner of His appearing in place and time 
be calculated to heighten the impression which the fact of it 

And in the second place, it follows that to start in any 
historical treatment of the subject of this paper from the 
central twofold assertion as to Christ, made by S. John in the 
phrase ' The Word was made flesh,' is to obtain at once the 
right clue to the lines which it should follow. 

(1) To do so is not to beg the question or to fetter the en- 
quiry, but only to define what kind of evidence, if any, the 
study of Christ's relation to foregoing history can yield. 
We see that it must be such as works in us the conviction 
that He both does, and does not, occur ' naturally ' at the time 
and place when He appeared ; that history leads up to Him 
and prepares His way, and yet that no force of natural 
antecedents can account for Him or for His work. It is 
true that evidence for either side of this two-sided impression 
may have sufficient weight to determine faith especially with 
individual minds. The contrast between Christ and all else in 
history, arresting the attention and suggesting the thought 
of special Divine presence, may of itself be a spring of faith : 
or, upon the other hand, a clear discernment of His natural 
supremacy in history may lead a man on to higher truth. 
But the true evidence, as corresponding to the true and 
full claim, will be that which suggests the conclusion with 
simultaneous and equal force from either side. 

(2) If the aim is not evidence but instruction, and we 
desire simply to understand better what is true of our Lord's 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 131 

relation to history, it will still advantage us greatly to start 
from the same point. We shall be able to recognise freely 
and without fear of contradiction or confusion, on the one 
side, the way in which the lines of history, of human ex- 
.perience, aspiration, achievement, character, need, lead up to 
Christ and issue in Him : and on the other, the unearthly 
and peculiar greatness of Him Who spake as never man spake, 
Who taught as one that had authority and not as the Scribes, 
Who was not convinced by any of sin : Whose daily intimacy 
with a disciple issued in that disciple's confession, ' Thou art the 
Christ, the Son of the Living God.' Such a method, starting 
from the Christian claim, and trying to trace out all that it 
involves, need not be only for the believer, any more than 
the quest for evidence or witness is for those only who do not 
believe. The Christian tests the foundations, and welcomes 
every corroboration, of his faith: while, in dwelling on the 
character of the work and of its relations to all else, the non- 
believer may come to find the conviction grow upon him that 
it was indeed ' wrought of God.' 

(3) From the same point, we see at once to what double 
misunderstanding or double attack the Gospel not only may 
but must be liable. On the one side, it may be refused a 
hearing as miraculous ; it may be understood as violating the 
natural order which it transcends ; it may be regarded and 
resented as an anomaly in history. On the other side, a con- 
sideration of the aptness of its occurrence when and where it 
did occur, and of its harmonious relations to many lines of 
tendency will suggest the suspicion that it may be after all 
only a result, though a supreme and surprising result, of his- 
torical forces. In a word, it may be accused at once from 
separate, possibly from the same, quarters as too supernatural 
and too natural to be what it claims to be. It is all-important 
to notice at the outset that liability to this double attack is 
an inevitable incident of its true character and of that which 
makes its glory, viz. the presence of true Godhead under truly 
human conditions. 

But to return to the main point. 

The importance and interest of the subject of this paper 

K 2 

132 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

may be inferred, as we have seen, directly from what the 
Incarnation claims to be. But we are not left to infer it for 
ourselves. Nothing is clearer or more striking than the place 
which it occupied from the outset in the declaration of the 
Gospel. Jesus Himself spoke of the Scribes of the kingdom 
as ' bringing forth out of their treasure things new and 
old ' ; and laid it down as a first principle of His kingdom 
that He was 'not come to destroy, but to fulfil 1 .' While 
with surprising and commanding clearness He centres men 
upon Himself, and distinguishes Himself from all who came 
before Him, from ' the prophets and the law which prophesied 
until John ' ; He yet with evident care, draws the new out 
of the old, and fits it on to the old : He delineates His own 
mission as a climax in a long appeal of God to Israel 2 , and 
the opposition to Him and His, as a chapter of denouement 
in the history of an old conflict between God and the un- 
godly 3 . He sees a ' necessity ' for the happening of things 
to fulfil what had been said of old 4 . The very pith of the 
disciples' ignorance is their failure to see how the features of 
His work and character had been traced beforehand, and 
the supreme teaching which they receive from Him is that 
which discloses His correspondence to the whole tenor of the 
Scriptures of the past 5 . The teaching of the Apostles, and of 
those who followed them, is faithful to these lines. Though 
they have to convince the world of an Event which works a 
revolution, which is to turn men from darkness to light: 
though their perfect confidence in their own truth makes 
them see the things that went before as elements, ' weak and 
beggarly elements V and they have moreover battles to fight 
against these ' elements ' set up again as antagonists : though 
their adherence to the Old Testament was an ever fruitful 
source of difficulty and attack (of which Judaizing and Gnostic 
controversies are the record), yet nevertheless they unswerv- 
ingly maintained the inspiration of the Old Testament, and 
stood upon it ; and we distinguish without hesitation as their 

1 S. Matt. xiii. 52 ; v. 17. 4 S. Mark xiv. 49 ; S. Luke xxii. 37. 

2 S. Matt. xxi. 33-38. 5 S. Luke xxiv. 25, 26, 44. 

3 S. Matt. v. 12 ; xxiii. 30-37. Gal. iv. 9. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 133 

normal, primary, characteristic method that of appeal to the 
correspondence between their Gospel and every hope and 
word of Israel's faith : the ' revelation of the mystery . . is 
. . by the scriptures of the prophets . . made known to all 
nations 1 .' The Hebrews who wistfully look back to their 
temple, law, and ritual, are not taught a stern forgetfulness of 
what had been, nor led vaguely to spiritualize its meaning, 
but are led to recognise in each part of the ancient system 
a line which leads up to Christ. Finally, the disciple who 
sets the true being of his Master in monumental and awful 
splendour as the Word who ' was with God and was God ' 
now made manifest in the flesh, in the same breath carries us 
to the very core and source of all that can be implied in 
preparation by declaring the same Word to have been 'in 
the world ' before, to have been the author of all things, and 
the unseen light of men 2 . 

The relation of Christ to history, or the preparation for 
the Gospel, is then no afterthought of our own or any recent 
time. It was Augustine's saying that Christianity was as 
old as the world 3 : and Tertullian's (one of almost venturesome 
boldness) that in the previous history Christ was schooling 
Himself for incarnation 4 . But it is not difficult to see that 
our own time is one which is specially fitted to appreciate 
and handle this aspect of the Christian truth. Our cultivation 
of the historical method, our historical realism or sense of the 
relation of persons or events to historical setting, our recognition 
of the part played in forming structure, function, character, 
by gradual process, by heredity, by evolution, our developed 
understanding of the links by which the parts and successions 
in all nature, and not least in what is human, are bound 
together all these go to farm a habit of mind which in presence 
of such a Kevelation as that of the Gospel will at once busy 
itself, whether for satisfaction, for edification, for controversy, or 

1 Rom. xvi. 26. So the pages of * De Came Christi vi. Bum Christum 
the early apologists are to our feeling qui jam tune et adloqui . . . human- 
almost cumbered by the profuseness um genus ediscebat in carnis habitu : 
of their appeal to these Scriptures. cp. adv. Prax. xvi. ediscebat Deus in 

2 S. John i. i, 14, 9, 10. terris cum hominibus conversari. 
8 Ep. cii. 12. 


134 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

for interpretation, with the relation of the Truth to the world 
into which it came, to all from amongst which it sprung. In 
such a time it is natural that attack should try to shew that 
facts which historical criticism has done much to secure, and 
a Life which it has become impossible to treat as a myth, are 
simply explicable according to the natural laws of historical 
causation. It is natural that Christianity should be explained 
as the flower and bloom of Judaism, or as sprung from the 
fusion of Greek and Jewish influences in a Galilean medium. 
Such explanations may not be new, but they are urged with 
new resources and a more subtle ingenuity. They have the 
advantage of being the sort of explanations which are naturally 
most congenial to the time. But out of the very stress of 
such attacks may come a special corroboration of Christian 
truth. The experiment is crucial : it can hardly be expected 
that attack of this kind can ever command greater skill and 
resource than it does at present. If therefore it should be 
proved to fail : if we are able to look men in the face and ask 
whether when all allowance is made for the subtle ' che- 
mistries ' of history and for the paradoxical way in which 
historical results spring from what precedes them, it is pos- 
sible to think that Jesus Christ and His religion were a mere 
growth from antecedents then we have here the prospect of 
such a confirmation of faith as- no age less historically scientific 
could, in that kind, give and receive. 

But this negative result, great as its value may be, can 
only be part of what Christian science may yield in this 
sphere for the elucidation and support of faith. It should 
surely be able to display with greater breadth and delicacy 
than ever before that correspondence between the Revelation 
of Christ and what went before it, which was of old indicated 
by saying that Christ came in the ' fulness of the time.' It 
should be able to enhance, and not (as men fear) to impair, 
the evidence of a Divine presence and influence, preparing 
for that which was to come, moulding the plastic material 
of history for a 'far-off Divine event.' It may seem as 
if this was not so. It may seem, for example, as if the 
severity and activity of historical and linguistic criticism had 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 135 

dimmed the clearness of those correspondences between 
prophetic utterances spoken centuries before Christ and the 
points in Him or His work whereby they were fulfilled, 
which were once so clear. It may seem, it is evidently true, 
that stricter canons of interpretation forbid for us that 
unbounded use of the happy expedient of allegory which 
could make everything in the Old Testament speak of Christ. 
But even if this were so (and with regard to prophecies we 
only partially grant it), is there no countervailing gain to 
reckon? The hand "of God may be seen in what is mar- 
vellous, startling, exceptional, unexplained. Can it not be 
seen as distinctly and as persuasively in what is orderly, 
steadfast, intelligible, and where our reason, made in God's 
likeness, can follow along in some degree with the how and 
the why of His working 1 ? It was Christ's wiU to give 
special signs, yet the curiosity which ' sought after a sign ' 
was not honoured by Christ like that wisdom which ' dis- 
cerned the signs of the times,' and so could see the force of 
the special signs that were given because it saw them in 
their true moral and spiritual context 1 . Have we any 
reason to hope that our time may be suffered to do (and even 
be doing) something for the interpretation of the witness of 
history to Christ which has not been done before, and which 
is even an advance upon what has been done ? Let us con- 
sider for a moment (in order to answer this question) what 
it is which specially engrosses the interest and admiration of 
all of us in the different branches of modern study and en- 
quiry. It is the beauty of process. The practical men among 
us watch process in its mechanical forms as contrived by 
invention. The naturalists and the men of science have 
to an extraordinary extent developed our perception of it 
in nature : they shew us its range, and its incredible deli- 
cacy, flexibility, and intricacy ; they shew us its enormous 
patience in the unceasing yet age-long movements which by 
microscopic or less than microscopic changes accumulate the 
coal, or lessen the mountain; they shew us the wonderful 
power of adaptation by which it accommodates itself to 

1 S. Matt. xi. 4, 5 ; xii. 39 ! xvi - 3- 

136 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

surroundings, and appropriates and transforms them to its 
need. The embryologist developes its wonders as it makes 
'the bones to grow in the womb of her that is with child.' 
And the historians in their sphere do the like: it is for 
them, if not the beginning and end of their work, at least the 
most powerful of their methods, to shew the processes by 
which institutions, customs, opinions, rise and decline ; to 
arrange the facts so as to display on their chart the steps of 
growth, the stages of decay ; to shew influences blending to 
form events, and parting again to destroy or re-shape them. 

There is beauty in all this, more than we can, perhaps, 
altogether analyse or explain. As living beings we sym- 
pathise with the life and movement of it all (or, as in the case 
of intricate machinery, with the imitation of life) compared 
with what stands stark, solid, unchanging ; as intelligent 
beings we revel and delight in its intricacy, and, further, we 
are gratified by the way in which it subdues with explanation 
what would be anomalous, abrupt, motiveless, in the way of 
change or event. It gives us something like the pleasure 
which we take in the beauty of the exquisite subtle curves 
and shaded surfaces of ta Kaphael figure compared with the 
rough outline of a Diirer woodcut. But we could not long 
rest in the admiration of mere process, whether delicate or 
colossal. There is a rational element present in, or con- 
trolling, our sense of beauty, which asks whence and whither, 
which demands unity in detail ; and this finds altogether new 
and delightful gratification when it can see a relation, a 
meaning, a grouping, a symmetry, of which processes are 
the ministers and instruments. 

It is, then, this idea of beauty in process that we bring with 
us as we approach to behold the facts and method of God's 
Redemptive Work. It is altogether too strong in us to be 
left behind as we cross the threshold of this region ; it is too 
much connected with all our thinking and experience. It is 
very possible that there may be exaggeration about it in us : 
and it is indispensable for us to recognise this, ' le defaut de 
notre qualiteV But all the same we cannot disown, though we 
must control, what is so specially our own. And if our love 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 137 

of process is prepared to be critical, it is also prepared to be 
gratified: and there is opened a prospect of fresh witness to 
the truth of the unchanging Gospel, if it should be found that 
its introduction into this world is ushered in by all the beauty 
of process, with all the grandeur of slow unhasting pre- 
paration, the surprises of gradual transformation, the deli- 
cacies of combination, which process allows. 

Such a sight is much more than wonderful, and has in it, 
if our ideas of what is Divine are not very narrow, much 
more evidence of God's hand than any mere wonder can 
have. But it is as wonderful as anything can be. And if we 
still plead that our sense of wonder stipulates for exceptional- 
ness, it has its own way of satisfying this the way of 
uniqueness. For those features which we admire in process 
are capable, if combined with a certain degree of grandeur, 
completeness, and particularity, of conveying to us the 
impression of a unique thing. We may dismiss as a dia- 
lectical refinement the objection which has been made that, 
as is doubtless true, 'everything is unique.' None the less, 
there is a meaning in our ordinary language when it applies 
the epithet ' unique ' to certain persons, classes, or things. 
A man of science may properly speak of a certain uniqueness 
in the way in which natural conditions are combined so as to 
make life possible : a historian will certainly miss truth if he 
does not recognise a special uniqueness in certain historical 
epoch-making moments. In proportion as we believe in 
Mind ordering the things of nature and history, such unique- 
ness will have speaking significance. And as uniqueness has 
its degrees, and rises according to the scale, quantity, cha- 
racter and completeness, of that which goes to make it up, so 
its significance will rise proportionately, until at last, arriving 
at uniqueness, which seems to us absolute, we gain evidence 
that there is before us a Supreme Thing, a true centre to the 
world. The evidence is not indeed demonstrative, but it is 
in a high degree corroborative, and it is the highest which 
history can offer. It is this evidence of uniqueness which, as 
it seems to me, we of the present day may with special 
fitness seek, and shall with special welcome find : 

138 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

(1) in the shaping of world-history towards the Christian 


(2) in the special preparation of the Jewish nation. 
Within the compass of a paper like the present, it is 

impossible to do more than indicate the lines which, even 
without any high degree of special education, a Christian's 
thought may travel in tracing the Divine work of prepara- 
tion and witness. 

I. In the first part of our enquiry the distinction between 
an outward and an inward working suggests itself as con- 
venient, though necessarily imperfect : the one consisting in 
a moulding of the material facts of history, such as the geo- 
graphical distribution of peoples, and the political and social 
order ; the other in a like use of the changes in thought, 
feeling, and the like. 

(i) It can never be altogether too hackneyed to dwell on 
the strange value to the world's history of the two peninsulas 
which we know as Greece and Italy, thrust out into that 
Mediterranean Sea, which was itself so remarkable as a centre 
and ' medium ' of the western world, binding its many nations 
together. They share with other lands of the temperate zone 
all its possibilities of hardy and vigorous life : but,, besides this, 
their sky and sea, their conveniences and difficulties, had 
a special stimulus to give to their early inhabitants. They 
were extraordinarily well suited to be the seed-plots of 
civilization. And these seed-plots were aptly fertilized, first 
by the Phoenicians, those carrier-birds of antiquity dropping 
seed along the Mediterranean coasts : and then by the happy 
contact between Greece and the other Greece opposite, to 
which the island bridges of the Aegean linked it, where, on 
the narrow strip of coast plain and rich river valley between 
the sea and the high plateaus of Asia Minor, the lonians 
enjoyed, as Herodotus says 1 , the fairest climate in the world. 
Upon this debouched, with the rivers from the interior, the 
highways along which travelled westward the civilization 
or the power of the dimly known but highly important early 
Phrygian monarchy, or from yet farther east, of the mighty 

1 Hat. i. 142. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 139 

Assyria. The recent discoveries of Prof. Ramsay and others 
re-interpret and emphasize to us this early connection between 
the Asian lands and Greece in Europe, of which the Lion Gate 
of Mycenae is a monument. What Greece thus took with her 
left hand she could pass across with her right to yet another 
Greece, ' Great Greece,' in Sicily and Southern Italy. But 
we may easily fail to recognise how much all this delicate 
and tender growth depended on favourable circumstance, and 
we cannot too carefully mark how space was made awhile for 
it to spring. The ' hills stood about ' both peninsulas on the 
North to shelter them from intrusion : but this barrier, suf- 
ficient for ordinary times, would hardly have resisted the heavy 
thrust of the later pressure of population from the East and 
North-East, which, when it did begin, so nearly crushed Rome, 
and which, if it had come earlier, might have easily stifled 
Greek and Roman civilization in the cradle. The reader 
of the Persian Wars will watch almost with awe within how 
little Greece came of what appeared alike to Asiatic and 
Greek a certain subjection to the Persian. A difference of 
twenty years earlier, the chance of a different temper in the 
little Athenian people, the use by Darius of the methods of 
Xerxes, would, humanly speaking, have decided the other 
way the fate of western civilization. It is easier again to 
admire than to explain the happy fortune which brought the 
mountain kingdom of Macedon to its moment of aggression 
just too late to hurt the flowering and fruitage of Greece, just 
in time to carry its seed broadcast over Eastern, Syrian, and 
Egyptian lands. From all the sequence of the Graeco-Roman 
history which follows, and in which nothing is more important 
to all the purposes of Providence than the simple fact of the 
order of these two, Greek first, Roman second, we can here 
select only one feature of capital importance, viz. the trans- 
formation of a world intensely localized and sub-div.ided into 
one as singularly united and homogeneous. Follow S. Paul and 
see his circuits, watch him claiming the safeguard of the same 
Roman citizenship in the Macedonian town and in the capital 
of Palestine, laying hold at Caesarea on the horns of a central 
tribunal of justice at Rome, borne thither by the sails of the 

140 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

carrying trade in the ' ship of Alexandria,' meditating a journey 
into Spain, numbering among his Roman converts, as seems 
probable, one who had a direct connection with Roman 
Britain, writing in the same Greek to Rome and to the 
highlanders of Galatia, never crossed in his journeys by any 
track of war, never stopped by any challenge of frontier or 
custom-house: these are so many object-lessons to shew what 
the ' Pax Romana ' and the Roman unity of power and organi- 
zation imported for the growth of a world-religion. This was 
the time when it could be complained that it was impossible 
to flee from the Caesar's wrath because the Caesar owned the 
world. And to make the impression more distinct, let the eye 
travel backward a little, or forward a little : backward into 
the second or even the first century B.C., when this same Medi- 
terranean world was still in greater part an unconsolidated 
chaos of political de'bris ; when the tumult of the Macedonian 
and Syrian wars of Rome and then of her desolating civil 
strife filled the world with noise and occupied its thought 
and destroyed its peace ; when the sea was impassable because 
of pirates, and when the West was still in great part un- 
subdued and formidable barbarism : or forward, across the 
space during which the Gospel had spread its influence and 
struck its roots and won its power, to the time so soon 
following, when the lands that had known no war were again 
traversed by the armies of rival emperors, and the barbarians 
began to dismember the West, and the gloom of a great fear 
preoccupied men's hearts. To say nothing of the middle 
ages, what unity of the Mediterranean world and the lands 
affiliated to it has the whole of later history got to shew, that 
can compare for a moment with the unity of the early 
Empire, focussed in its cosmopolitan capital Rome 1 

And in this there is much more than a mechanical pro- 
vision for the progress of a world-religion. It is not merely 
that its heralds find a complete facility of communication, 
peaceful conditions, and a ' lingua franca ' ready for their use. 
We must realize how the unity had been obtained. It had 
been by pulverizing separate nationalities, separate patriotisms, 
separate religions ; by destroying or leaving only in a muni- 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 141 

cipal form the centres round which human energy and loyalty 
had been wont to gather. Thus the world had been turned 
into that ' cold and icy plain ' of which M. Renan speaks. 
And it is not too much to say that this process had destroyed 
just so many barriers to the entrance of Christianity. We 
have only to realize what had been previously the universal 
character of the worships of the western world, viz. that they 
had been local, the common and exclusive possession of the 
citizens of one place or state, and inextricably bound up 
with the being and welfare of that particular community. 
Such religions, and people bred under them, would have met 
Christianity, not so much with criticism of its doctrines, or 
with rival doctrines of their own, as with ideas and a frame 
of mind so alien to a spiritual and universal religion like 
the Gospel that it would have found no foothold in attacking 
them. Conceive the force with which what even in the 
second century after Christ the heathen objector urged, ' it is 
not creditable to alter the customs handed down to us from 
our fathers 1 ,' would have come from the Roman of the earlier 
Republic, or the Greek of the times of freedom. Nay, we may 
without rashness hazard the conjecture that had it been pos- 
sible for the Gospel to overcome these conditions it would have 
done so prematurely and with loss : that they were in their 
time and place ministers of good : that they were bound up 
with that vigorous energy of development within one small 
limited horizon, by which, as we shall see, the preparation 
of the heathen world was carried out. 

It was the negative aid of the Empire to Christianity that 
it destroyed these. But it lent more positive help. It created 
a demand, or at least a need, for a universal religion. Of this 
there are several proofs. The religious phenomena of the 
time other than Christianity supply the first. There is an 
attempt, or more than one attempt, to provide such a religion. 
There is the attempt by way of comprehension, of making 
all the gods live together as joint inhabitants of a common 
Pantheon. There is the attempt by way of construction, in the 
worship of the one Power about which there was no doubt, the 
1 Clem. Alex. Protrept. ex. init. 

142 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Goddess Eome, and of the Emperor her deified representative. 
There is also, we may perhaps add, the attempt by way of 
philosophic thought. For philosophy at this time had a 
religious bent which increased not improbably as the circula- 
tion of Christian thought stole unknown through the veins 
of society: and it felt after the One Being whose Personal 
existence and Fatherhood it waveringly discerned, but whom 
yet it could not steadily distinguish from a personified order 
of nature. Such a religious idea, needed to complete Cicero's 
commonwealth of the Universe comprehending Gods and men, 
may be seen with increasing clearness in Seneca, Epictetus, 
and Aurelius. The need of a universal religion is thus 
directly shewn. But other proofs, as clear though less direct, 
are to be drawn from the other departments of human thought. 
For literature was already a unity, into which whatever the 
genius of provincials like Lucan, or Seneca, or Pliny contri- 
buted was gathered up. And it is a commonplace that the 
greatest constructive result of the imperial period was the 
creation or development of a universal code of law. 

(2) In what has been last said we have almost crossed the 
imaginary line by which we were to divide the preparation 
in external fact from that which was more inward in thought 
and feeling. To deal with this latter may seem almost 
ridiculous : since to do so must involve the presumption of 
summarizing in a few lines the drift of the literature and 
thought of antiquity. Yet, in the briefest words, it may be 
possible to suggest a few true outlines of the shape which an 
account of that drift should take. It would certainly repre- 
sent the mental history of the classical world in its relation 
to the Gospel as supplying a double preparation, positive and 
negative : a positive preparation by evolving ideas which the 
Gospel could work into its own fabric, or a frame of mind 
which would make for it a suitable ' nidus ' and a receptive 
soil: a negative preparation by the breakdown of human 
nature's own constructive and speculative efforts, and by the 
room thus left for a revelation which would unite the broken 
and useless fragments of thought and minister to unsatisfied 
needs. And of these the negative seems the more predomi- 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 143 

nant and the more direct. In so saying we are guided by 
what appears to be the teaching of the New Testament. It 
seems as though the main upshot of that time was, and was 
meant to be, the failure of the world ' by wisdom ' l to find the 
truth: though when this has been recognised and acknow- 
ledged, then the world might find, as we may find, that all 
the while in this unattaining and abortive thought God had 
put impulses from His own wisdom, and prepared materials 
for His own coming work. It is the typical history of the 
' natural man ' : and though what is primary and indispensable 
is that the natural man should learn the poverty and misery 
of his own state, and be ready to die to his life, yet the 
natural man too is the true though perverted work of 
God, and in his thoughts and instincts, his emotions and 
speculations, must be found a witness to which the revela- 
tion will appeal, and a response which it will elicit. It is 
impossible not to follow the track so suggested, and to see 
in the early stages of Greek life, the lusty youth-time of the 
natural man. Casting off the bright and truthful sim- 
plicity, and the happy story -telling of its childhood, it begins 
(we speak of the times between 600 and 450 B.C.) to try its 
young energies upon the problems of the world : it suggests its 
explanations, quick, ingenious, one-sided, changing, of how the 
world came to be : ' it came from water,' ' from air,' ' from 
fire : ' 'it came from the dance of atoms : ' ' nay, but these give 
us only the how, it came from something more than these, it 
came from mind : ' ' are you sure what it is ? fix upon any 
part of it and you will find it slip through your fingers, for 
all is change, and change is all we know;' these are the quick 
premieres ebauches of its young speculation. But already 
there is a sound of alarm in the air. That challenge asking 
whether there was an ' it ' at all ; and if so, whether by parity 
of cavil there was any solidity in the other assumptions of 
thought, in 'good' and 'evil,' ' truth' and 'falsehood,' 'beauty' 
and ' ugliness ; ' or at least anything beyond such mere rela- 
tive and convenient meaning as there is in ' big ' or ' little,' 
' thick ' or ' thin,' ' wet ' or ' dry ' this sobers men. Thought 

1 i Cor. i. 21. 

144 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

feels its own dangers. It must try its hand more seriously 
at some true constructive work : and so there follows that 
great period in which, steadied by the strong grip and sharp 
discipline of the great prophet of natural conscience and 
natural instinct, Socrates, it addresses itself to its great task 
of wringing her secret from the world. It is done and neces- 
sarily done in the sheer self-reliance of the unaided mind, yet 
of the mind in the fullest sense of the word ; not the mere 
critical understanding, but the whole spiritual and rational 
energy of the man, not disowning its dependence on a disci- 
pline of character and a severe and painful training of its own 
powers. The results, so splendid and yet so inadequate, so 
rich in great intuitions and suggestions, so patient and suc- 
cessful in much of its detail, is preserved to us in the work of 
Plato and Aristotle. Christian thought can never be interested 
in disparaging that work: Christian thinkers at different 
times have done special honour to different aspects of it : 
and the position of Aristotle in the works of Dante, and of 
Aquinas, and in the frescoes of the Spanish chapel, is the sign 
of the ungrudged admiration given by what in our modern 
way we might regard as among the least appreciative and 
discriminating of Christian times. But the most ungrudging 
admiration cannot prevent our seeing, and history compels 
us to see, what it lacked. It lacked a foundation upon a 
Eock. It had the certainty, if certainty at all, which belongs 
to profound intuitions and to a wide interpretation of experi- 
ence, not that which makes a definite, settled, and above all 
communicable conviction. All the while narrower, pettier, 
more captious, or more ordinary minds had been asking ' what 
is truth ' in a very different spirit ; had displayed the inde- 
pendence and captiousness of youth, and not its hopeful and 
trustful creativeness. And more and more this lower element 
began to prevail. When it became a question not of projecting 
systems which should impress and absorb the higher minds 
of a few generations, but of providing that which should 
pass on with men, the common run of men, into the advancing 
years, and stand the strain of the world's middle life ; then it 
was found that the human mind unaided was more powerful 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 145 

to destroy than to build or to maintain. The dark horse of 
Plato's chariot pulled down his fellow : in the unaided human 
understanding the critical faculty proved stronger than the 
constructive : without the point of attachment in a central 
truth to which men's high thoughts could reach and cling, or 
(to change the figure) without a clearly-disclosed goal of truth 
towards which they could be seen to tend and converge, they 
could not maintain or justify themselves: 'the carnal mind' 
was against them and unworthy of them : as regards any real 
adoption of them by mankind for fruitful and trustworthy 
convictions, they passed away, according to that law of which 
the modern poet speaks : 

Eternal hopes are man's 

Which when they should maintain themselves aloft 
Want due consistence : like a pillar of smoke 
That with majestic energy from earth 
Rises but, having reached the thinner air. 
Melts and dissolves, and is no longer seen l . 

We shall not be wrong in saying that the course of philo- 
sophy after Aristotle displayed increasingly the collapse of 
the experiment of speculative self-reliance. Scepticism was 
not confined to the ' Sceptics,' nor even shared only by the 
Epicureans : it deeply underlay the philosophy of the Stoics. 
But as with advancing life men baffled in their early san- 
guineness fall back (both for good and evil) and content them- 
selves with the energies of practical life, so the mind of that 
day baffled and despairing of the speculative problem did not 
abandon, but transferred, its self-reliance ; men threw them- 
selves with a sort of defiance into the organization of conduct ; 
'imperturbableness' and ' self-sufficiency ' became watchwords 
of their thought 2 . This is the character of Stoicism : this 
explains its vogue and wide indirect influence ; its curious 
likeness to its apparently quite alien contemporary, Epicurean- 
ism, in a common cultivation of self-sufficingness ; and, finally, 
its ready alliance with the natural tendencies of Roman 
character when it passed from Greece to Rome. 

Here again was a great experiment, which had no mean 
success. We admire almost with awe its unsparing thorough- 

1 Wordsworth, Excursion iv. 2 'Arapa^ia (Epicurean) : avrap/cfia. 


146 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

ness, its austerity, its unworldliness, its courage, its endurance. 
In its later forms, when some power has touched it with 
gentleness, we yield it even a warmer and tenderer admira- 
tion. Only what we cannot do is to disguise its failure as a 
great spiritual experiment. We cannot forget how it left the 
mass of men untouched, how it concentrated strength by what 
it neglected of human sympathy and effort, how it revealed 
a disease and palsy of human nature which it could not 
cure : how at its heart it had no certainty of conviction to 
give peace and to resist the forces of decay. Humanity will 
never, perhaps, wind itself higher. But it was a height on 
which human strength is insufficient to stand. There lacked 
a sure word of truth: the joy and fruitfulness of an in- 
spiration: a grace which could minister to the weakness, as 
well as summon the forces, of human nature. We cannot 
be blind to its failure unless we share it : unless, that is, we 
are trying to satisfy ourselves by some philosophy of life which 
misses its secrets, has no key to many of its problems, and 
at heart despairs of its solution. The experiment of moral 
self-reliance, then, failed in its turn. 

But we spoke of a positive as well as a negative upshot to 
all this Gentile history : a positive contribution to the prepa- 
ration for Christ. Where shall we look for this 1 Surely 
alongside of, and in the same plane with, the failures. If one 
chief result of the history of the ancient world was to exhibit 
the insufficiency of man's efforts to find truth and right- 
eousness and life, this must be completely shewn in propor- 
tion as the efforts were noble, and therefore in proportion as 
they realized (though, at the moment, only for disappointment) 
the capacities, the possibilities, the true desires and ideals of 
man. If man the race, like man the individual, was finally 
to find salvation by dying to himself, to his own natural man, 
he could only do this when it had been adequately and mag- 
nificently proved both that he could not save himself, and how 
splendidly worth saving he was. He must do his best, that he 
may despair of his best. Do we not feel that this is just what 
was worked out by the histories of Greece and Rome ? They 
are splendid experiments of human power. Diverse in their 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 147 

method, they combine in this result. In Greece the experiment 
is by way of spontaneity, of free lively development, con- 
ditioned only by its own instincts of taste and beauty. And 
Rome represents the alternative plan of seeking strength by 
discipline, by subordination, by distrust of novelty, by sacrifice 
of individuality to the corporate life, and of sentiment and 
opinion to the rule of law. Both realize deathless types of 
matured human life, of its beauty, its brilliant graces, its dig- 
nity, its honour, its strength. Perhaps, according to the one- 
sidedness which limits so severely the works and lives of men, 
it might have been impossible that these possibilities of his 
nature should have been first realized with the same solidity 
and fulness in presence of those mighty truths, speaking of 
what was above man, which brooded over the history of the 
Jews and came forth into the world with the Gospel. Yet they 
are indispensable to the fulness of the Christian work : they 
are the human material : and that material must be first-rate 
in its kind. We owe it perhaps permanently to Greece and 
Rome that we recognise fully the grace of God's original 
workmanship in man, the validity of his instincts, his indi- 
vidual value, the sacredness and strength of all his natural 
social bonds, the wisdom and power possessed by his incorpo- 
rated life. These are things which we could never have 
realized if all the world had been brought up in the barbarous 
societies of ancient Europe or under the great despotisms of 
Egypt and Asia. The religions of Asia may perhaps shew us 
by contrast the immense importance to a religion of being 
able to build with sound and adequate materials on the 
human side. That Greece and Rome did contribute specially 
in this way to the work of the true religion may be shewn 
by the way in which men have again and again turned back 
to these original sources for fresh impulses of liberty or 

But these things had their day and passed. The age of 
Pericles and of Demosthenes, the great days of the Roman 
Republic, are only epochs in the history, long past at the era 
of our Lord. We look to see whether there is any positive 
preparation for Him and His Gospel in the whole drift of that 

L 2 

148 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

history, and especially in tendencies which took a developed 
form closer to the era of Christianity 1 . 

General and popular impressions about the character and 
course of the history will put us on the track of a true 
answer. It is impossible to look at the history of the 
classical world without getting a double impression, that it is 
a history of failure and degeneracy, and yet that it is a history 
of bettering and progress. If we take the world at the Chris- 
tian era, the times of political brilliancy and energy are over, 
and men are sinking into a uniformity of servility and stag- 
nation : morally the ancient severity is lost, and the laws of 
Augustus are feebly coping with the results of a general dis- 
soluteness as to morality and marriage : economically society 
is disfigured by a vast slave system, by the disappearance of 
honest and thriving free labour, and by great developments of 
luxury and pauperism : in literature, though it is the ' golden 
age,' the signs are not wanting, in artificiality and the 
excessive study of form, of imminent rapid decline into 
the later rhetorical culture: in philosophy speculation had 
run itself out into scepticism and self-destruction: and in 
religion a disbelief in the ancient gods and a doubt of all 
Divine providence is matter of open profession. And yet there 
is a bettering. The laws of the Empire become a model of 
humanity, equitableness, and simplicity. Seneca and Epictetus 
rise to thoughts of moral purity and sublimity and delicacy 
which at times seem hardly unworthy of the New Testament : 
and their humane and comprehensive ideas have cast off the 
limitations which the narrow life of Greek cities set to those 
of their greater predecessors. 

Here then is a great clearing of the stage, and a great pre- 
disposing of thought and sentiment, for a religion which pro- 
claimed a good tidings for all men without distinction of ' Jew 
or Greek. Barbarian and Scythian, bond or free ' ; for a religion 

1 The words ' era of Christianity ' world through the first and even the 

are used intentionally rather than the second century of the era to receive 

more precise ' era of Christ,' because the Gospel may be fairly included as 

anything which (without being in- preparation for the revelation of 

fluenced unless in the most impalpable Christ, 
way by Christianity) prepared the 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 149 

of compassion ; for a religion wholly spiritual and unpolitical. 
There are traces distinct and widespread of special tendencies 
to such a religion, and they are connected with the best side of 
the life of the time. The enormous diffusion of the ' collegia ' 
or clubs, in which the members were drawn together without 
distinction of rank, or even of free and slave, in a partly 
religious bond, shews the instinct of the time feeling for a 
religion of brotherhood. There is a delicacy of family life as 
seen in Plutarch, in Pliny, in Fronto, which shews readiness 
for a religion such as should regenerate the simple instincts and 
relations of humanity. In the position and function of the 
philosophers (who sometimes half-remind one of mendicant 
friars 1 , sometimes of the confessor or chaplain in families of 
rank, in their relation to education and to the vicissitudes of 
later life) there is implied a concentration of thought and 
interest upon character and upon the discipline of individual 
life, a sensibility to spiritual need, which all indicates a ground 
prepared for Christian influence. And, finally, whether it be from 
the stealing in of Eastern influences, or from a reaction against 
the cold scepticism of Ciceronian times, or from a half-political 
half-genuine sense of the necessity of religion to society, or 
from a sort of awed impression created by the marvellous for- 
tune of Rome, or from the steady impact of the clear strong 
deep religious faith of the Jews scattered everywhere, and 
everywhere, as we know, to an extraordinary extent leavening 
society, or, as time went on, from a subtle influence of Chris- 
tianity not yet accepted or even consciously known, there was, 
it is notorious, a return towards religion in the mind of men. 
The temples were again thronged : priests became philosophers. 
In Neo-Platonism thought again looks upward, and the last 
phase of Greek philosophy was in the phrase of the dry and 
dispassionate Zeller 2 'a philosophy of Revelation' which sought 
knowledge partly in the inner revelation of the Deity and 
partly in religious tradition. This movement was indeed a 
rival of Christianity ; it came to put out some of its strength 
in conscious rivalry, or it tried in Gnostic heresies to rearrange 

1 Capes, Age of Antonines. 

8 Philosophy of the Greeks: Eclectics, p. 20 (tr. Alleyne). 


1 50 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Christianity on its own lines : but it was the result and wit- 
ness of a disposition of men's hearts which made way for the 

It was not, then, merely true that the failures of the heathen 
world left it empty, hungering, distrustful of itself ; nor merely 
that the world of that particular epoch gave extraordinary 
facilities of an outward kind for the diffusion of a world- 
relio-ion: but also that in some of its most characteristic 


and deepest workings, in thoughts and dispositions which 
it had purchased at a great cost of ancient glories and liber- 
ties and of all that was proud and distinctive in Greek and 
Roman religion, there was that which would make men ready 
for Christianity and cause it to be to them, as it could not 
have been to their ancestors, intelligible, possible, and con- 

II. Dr. "Westcott has drawn, in a useful phrase, the in- 
valuable distinction between a tendency towards, and a 
tendency to produce, the truth of Christianity 1 . 

If we have been able to trace a real shaping of the lines 
inward and outward of the world's order disposing it for a 
true religion, the impression which this makes on us must 
be enormously increased if (i) we can see that that religion, 
when it comes, is most obviously a thing which comes to the 
Gentile world, and does not grow out of it either by blending 
of tendencies, or by constructive individual genius : and if 
(2) we are able to indicate another and perfectly distinct 
course of shaping and preparation which at the required 
moment yielded the material and equipment for the religion 
which was to go out upon the world. 

of Die Rism'/-* </;,,,,> ? ( rd ed.), principles of general humanity, but 

p. 72. It is interesting to notice that there was no hint of a possibility of 

according to so dispassionate an ob- an end to slavery. There were some 

server as M. Gaston Boissier (La Be- signs of mutual interest between 

ligion Romaiiie d' Augusts aux Antonins), classes, but no progress towards the 

who has done so much to trace the effective appearance of a true philan- 

better tendencies of the Imperial thropy such as the Christian. In such 

period, the evidence suggests some cases, however, the validity of the 

such distinction, even as re:;;in Is some distinctions must be debateable and 

of the main practical results of Chris- fluctuating. It is absolute as regards 

tianity. For example, there was a the Incarnation, 
tendency to ameliorate slavery on. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 151 

That this was so is in a sense upon the face of history. 
The Christian Church, it has been said, appeared at first as 
a Jewish sect. ' The salvation ' Christ declared was ' of the 
Jews.' He came (' not to destroy but) to fulfil ' the system 
amidst which He arose. Such sayings put us upon the track 
of a special preparation for the Gospel. Let us follow it. 
And (as the phrase is chosen to imply) we look here for 
something kindred indeed in many of its methods to that 
general preparation which we have hitherto traced, but yet 
more coherent, positive, and concentrated. For we pass in 
a sense at this point (to use language of the day), from the 
preparation of an environment suitable to the Gospel, to a 
preparation of the organism itself. Such language is ob- 
viously open to criticisms and misconceptions of more kinds 
than one. But it is sufficiently defensible historically and 
theologically to justify us in gaining the clearness which it 

I shall attempt to present the signs of this preparation by 
considering successively these three points. 

(1) The relations between Israel and the world at the 
Christian era. 

(2) The fitness of Israel to be the seed-plot of a world-religion, 
and of the world-religion given by Christ. 

(3) The character of the process by which the Israel, so fitted, 
and so placed, had come to be. 

(i) Many a reader of Mommsen's History of Rome will have 
been surprised by finding that the ideal political construction 
which the writer's knowledge and imagination have ascribed 
to Caesar was to consist of three elements the Roman, the 
Hellenic, and the Jewish 1 . Yet striking as the paradox is, 
it is chiefly in the facts themselves. Whether we look at 
the ethnological character of the Jews amidst a system 
whose strength is from the West ; or at their historical 
position, as a nation in some sense in decadence, with a 
history of independence and glories long lost ; or at the 
minuteness of their original seat, and its insignificance at that 
time as (ordinarily) a subordinate district under the Roman 

1 Bk. V. c. xi. Tlie New Monarchy. 

152 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

province of Syria, it is alike surprising that it should be 
possible to speak of them as the third factor of the Roman 
Empire. Yet, in the main, the same surprise is created by 
any acquaintance with the circumstances of the Jewish 
Dispersion, as it may be learnt from easily accessible books, 
such as Edersheim's or Schiirer's 1 . There is first the ubiquity 
of the race : testified alike by Josephus, Strabo, and Philo, 
and by the witness of inscriptions. They are everywhere, 
and everywhere in force, throughout the Roman world. Out- 
side the Roman world their great colonies in Babylon and 
Mesopotamia are another headquarters of the race. They are 
an eighth part (one million) of the population of Egypt: 
they yield 10,000 at the least to one massacre in Antioch. 
To numbers and ubiquity they add privilege in the shape of 
rights and immunities, begun by the policy of the successors 
of Alexander, but vigorously taken up and pushed by Rome 
as early as 139 B.C., greatly developed by Caesar round whose 
pyre at Rome they wept, and maintained by the almost con- 
sistent policy of the earlier Empire : rights of equal citizen- 
ship in the towns where they lived, and equal enjoyment of 
the boons granted to citizens : rights of self-government 
and internal administration : and rights or immunities 
guarding their distinctive customs, such as their observance 
of the Sabbath or their transmission of tribute to Jerusalem. 
The opportunities thus secured from without were vigorously 
turned to account by their trading instinct, their tenacity, 
their power of living at a low cost, and above all by their 
admirable freemasonry among themselves, which bound Jews 
throughout the world into a society of self-help, and must 
have greatly assisted the enterprises which depend on 
facility of information, communication, and movement. So 
far we merely get an impression of their importance. But 
there are other points which, while they greatly heighten this 
impression, add to it that of remarkable peculiarity. To 
ask what was their influence plunges us into a tumult of 
paradoxes. They had, for example, everywhere the double 

1 Edersheim's Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah : Schurer, History of the 
Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 1 5 3 

character of citizens and strangers, speaking the language of the 
countries where they dwelt, ' being Antiochenes,' as Josephus 
says, ' at Antioch, Ephesians at Ephesus,' and so forth : possess- 
ing and using the rights and franchises of citizens, and yet 
every one of them counting the Holy Land his country and 
Jerusalem his capital : respecting the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem 
as the supreme authority of the race : sending up their tribute 
annually, flocking thither themselves in vast numbers to 
keep the feasts, or again not seldom returning there to die. 
They possessed in fact the combined advantages of the 
most elastic diffusion, and the strongest national con- 
centration. Such a position could hardly make their rela- 
tions to their neighbours entirely simple or harmonious. It 
'involved an internal contradiction 1 .' It could not but be 
felt that while enjoying all the advantages of citizenship, 
their hearts were really elsewhere. From all the religious and 
social side of the common life, which in the ancient world 
was far less separable from the political than it is now, they 
were sensibly aliens. They were visibly making the best of two 
inconsistent positions. And accordingly the irritation against 
them in the towns (we have a glimpse of it in Acts xix. 34) 
and the ensuing encroachments and riots, form as chronic a 
feature of the position, as does their protection by the Empire. 
But the causes of irritation went wider and deeper. It has 
been said that 'the feelings cherished towards the Jews 
throughout the entire Graeco-Roman world were not so much 
those of hatred as of pure contempt 2 .' Their exterior was 
doubtless unlovely : a Jewry, as M. Ren an reminds us, was 
perhaps not more attractive in ancient than in modern times. 
But what was even more offensive, especially to that cosmo- 
politan age, and what struck it as altogether the dominant 
characteristic of the Jews, was their stubborn and inhuman 
perversity. They would be unlike all the rest of the world. 
Tacitus has even formulated this for them as the principle 
guiding their whole action, reduced to practice in details which 
were singularly well fitted to exhibit its offensiveness 3 . His 
picture should be read by any one who wishes to realize how 

1 Schiirer, II. ii. 273. 2 Sehurer, II. ii. 297. 3 Tac. Hist. v. 4. 

154 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

cultivated opinion thought of them : and, even if evidence 
were lacking, we can see that this was just the kind of 
dislike to be shared by all classes, cultivated and un- 
cultivated alike. Yet it is against the background of this 
intense prejudice, ever more scornful and irritated as it 
was exasperated by the incidents of daily contact at close 
quarters, that we have to paint the phenomena, as striking 
and as abundantly testified, of the vast and penetrating in- 
fluence of the Jews over their neighbours. These also lie 
upon the surface. In very various degrees multitudes (of 
whom women doubtless formed a considerable majority) 
adopted the customs and brought themselves into con- 
nection with the religion of the Jews. The boasts or claims 
of Josephus, who refers any sceptical contemporary to 'his 
own country or his own family,' are confirmed by the ad- 
missions of classical writers, by the indignant sarcasms directed 
against the converts, and by the vivid touches in the Acts of 
the Apostles T . ' Victi victoribus leges dederunt ' is the strong 
phrase of Seneca, and it was a very persuasive influence 
which could cause it to be said that in Damascus ' nearly 
the whole female population was devoted to Judaism ' : which 
could give S. Paul's Jewish opponents in the towns of Greece 
and Asia Minor the power at one time of raising the mob, at 
another of working upon the ' chief and ' honourable women,' 
the ladies of the upper classes : or which could bring ' almost 
the whole city ' together in a provincial town because a new 
teacher appears in the Jews' synagogue 2 . This influence had 
its results in a considerable number of actual proselytes who 
through circumcision received admission, somewhat grudg- 
ing indeed and guarded, within the Jewish pale, but still 
more in a much larger number of adherents (the ' devout 
persons,' ' devout Greeks,' &c., of the Acts 3 ) attracted by the 
doctrines, and acquainted with the Scriptures of Israel, who 
formed a fringe of partly leavened Gentile life round every 

We hardly need evidence to shew us that to this picture of 

1 Schurer, II. ii. 308. 2 Acts xvii. 5, xiv. 5, xiii. 50, 44. 

3 Acts xiii. 43, &c. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 155 

the influence of Jew over Gentile, there need to be added 
another which will shew how the subtle, persuasive, and 
powerful culture of the Graeco -Roman world made itself felt 
upon the Jews of the Dispersion. The contrast between the 
Jews of Palestine and those of the Dispersion, the translation of 
the Scriptures into Greek, the rise of a literature which in dif- 
ferent ways tried to recommend what was Jewish to the heathen 
or to fuse what was Jewish with what was Greek, the single 
fio-ure of Philo at Alexandria, are all evidences of an influence, 


which must have told continually with penetrating power 
on all that was ablest and most thoughtful in the Jewish 
mind. It was not the least considerable result of this that 
all the great thoughts and beliefs of Israel learned to talk 

o o 

the language of the civilized world, and so acquired before 
the time of Christ an adequate and congenial vehicle. 

Such was the position of Israel at the Christian era. It 
was one which had been gradually brought about during the 
last three centuries E. c. : but it only came to its full growth 
in the last few decades (the Jewish settlement in Rome may 
date from Pompey's time) under favour of the imperial policy 
and the peace of the times : and it was soon to change ; indeed 
the fall of Jerusalem A. D. 70 altered it within and without. 
Thus it stood complete during the half-century in which the 
work of founding the Christian Church throughout the 
Empire was accomplished, and then passed away. We remark 
upon it how admirable an organization it offered for the 
dissemination of a world-religion, originated upon Jewish 
soil. The significance of this, occurring at the time when 
such a religion actually appeared, is heightened when we 
observe that the position had continued long enough fully to 
try the experiment of what by its own forces Judaism could 
accomplish for the world. As S. James argued 1 ' Moses had,' 
now for a long time, 'in every city them that preach him, 
being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day ' and it 
might have so gone on for ever without any conversion of the 
Gentile world. That world could never have been drawn 
within a system, which, however zealous to make proselytes, 

1 Acts xv. 2 1 . 

156 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

had nothing better to offer to those whom it made than that 
they might come in, if they liked, and sit down in the lowest 
place, tolerated rather than welcomed, dependents rather than 
members of an intensely national community, leaving father 
and mother and all that they had, not for a position of spiritual 
freedom, but for a change of earthly nationality. 

(2) But we trench upon the second question. What was 
the nation that held this position of vantage? What signs 
are there about it which suggest a special preparation for a 
purposed result ? 

It is one answer to this question to say that this wonder- 
fully placed people had, alone among the nations, a genuine 
faith, a genuine hope, and a genuine charity. They at least, 
says Seneca, when he complains of their influence, ' knew the 
reasons of their customs.' There was a raison d'etre to their 
religion. In a world which still kept up the forms of wor- 
ship and respect for gods whose character and existence could 
not stand the criticism of its own best moral and religious 


insight, any more than that of its scepticism ; or which was 
framing for itself thoughts of Deity by intellectual abstrac- 
tion ; or which was betraying its real ignorance of the very 
idea of God by worshipping the two great powers which, as 
a matter of fact, it knew to be mighty, Nature and the 
Roman Empire, the Jew had a faith, distinct, colossal, and 
unfailing, in a Living God, Maker of heaven and earth. 
This we may be sure was the inner secret of the true at- 
traction which drew the hearts of such men as Cornelius the 
centurion to the despised and repulsive Jew. This God, they 
further believed, was their God for ever and ever. ' Let us 
kneel/ they said, ' before the Lord our Maker, for He is the 
Lord our God.' And therefore, let them have gained it how 
they may, they had an indomitable hope, or rather, confidence, 
which all unpropitiousness of outer appearances had only 
served to stimulate, that He would bring them through, that 
He had a purpose for them, and that He would bring it to pass : 
that the world was no mechanical system of meaningless 
vicissitudes, but an order, of which indeed they little realized 
the scope, moving under the hand of a Ruler for a purpose of 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 157 

glory and beneficence. That the confidence of the extra- 
ordinary destiny which, under this order, was reserved for 
Israel, as well as the present possession of the Divine law 
and covenant, should have produced an intense sense of 
unity and fellowship was a matter of course. The Roman is 
obliged to recognise their mutual charity, however deformed, 
as he thinks, by their antipathy to all who were not of their 
kindred and faith. 

But such an answer to our question, though it brings before 
us a sign, and a sign of the very highest, that is of the moral 
and spiritual, order, does not perhaps set us at the point 
from which the whole meaning of the position opens to us 
most naturally. It may do this more effectually to ask 
whether there was any material in Judaism for a world- 
religion, and for that world-religion which grew out of it "? 

Perhaps if we performed the futile task of trying to 
imagine a world-religion, we should, with some generality of 
consent, define as its essentials three or four points which it 
is striking to find were fundamentals of the religion of Israel, 
and at that time of no other. We should require a doctrine 
of God, lofty, spiritual, moral : a doctrine of man which should 
affirm and secure his spiritual being and his immortality: 
and a doctrine of the relations between God and man, which 
should give reality to prayer and to the belief in providence, 
and root man's sense of responsibility in the fact of his 
obligation to a righteousness outside and above himself, a 
doctrine in short of judgment. It needs no words to shew how 
the religion of Israel in its full development not only taught 
these truths, but gave them the dignity and importance which 
belong to the cornerstones of a religion. 

But then along with these that religion taught other beliefs 
as clearly conceived, which seemed to be of the most opposite 
character : just as distinctive and exclusive as the former 
were universal. It taught the obligation in every detail of a 
very stringent written law. and of a ceremonial and sacri- 
ficial system, centred at Jerusalem, and forming the recognised 
communication between God and man. It taught a special 
election of Israel and covenant of God with Israel, a special 

158 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

purpose and future for Israel. Nor was the conception of the 
participation by other nations in the blessings of Messiah's 
rule, (to which we, reading for example the prophecies of 
Isaiah in the light of the sequel, cannot but give a dominant 
place,) more to an Israelite than a striking incident in a dis- 
tinctively Israelite glory. 

It would seem then, combining these two sides, that 
there was in Israel the foundation on which a religion 
for the world could be laid, but that it could only be 
made available under stringent and, as it might appear, 
impossible conditions. An attempt to make a religion 
by extracting the universal truths in Judaism would have 
been simply to desert at once the vantage-ground which it 
was proposed to occupy, because it would have conflicted 
directly with every Jewish instinct, belief, tradition, and 
hope. If the thing was to be done, it must be done by some 
power and teaching which, while extricating into clearness all 
that was truest in the theology and morality of Israel, was 
also able to shew to the judgment of plain men and earnest 
seekers, that it constituted a true climax of Israel's history, 
a true fulfilment of the promises and prophecies which Jews 
had now made matters of notoriety everywhere, a true final 
cause of all the peculiar and distinctive system of Israel. It 
must be able to take Israel to witness, and therefore it must 
be able to convince men not only that it had a high theology 
and a refined morality, but that God had ' visited His people ' : 
and that 'what He had spoken unto the fathers He had so 
fulfilled.' It must produce accordingly not only doctrine, but 
fact. It must carry on, what was implied in the whole 
discipline of Israel, the assertion that truth was not a matter 
of speculation, but a word from God ; or the knowledge of 
a dealing of God with man clothing itself with reality, 
embodying itself in fact, making a home for itself in history. 
It is true that the Judaism of the synagogue in its idolatry of 
the law, had assumed the appearance of a paper system, but 
in that form it had no promise or power of expansion : and on 
the side where the religion of Israel admitted of development 
into some higher and wider state, it was distinctly a religion 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 159 

not of theory or teaching only, but of Divine action revealing 
itself in history. 

It will not escape any observer of the beginnings of Chris- 
tianity that it was precisely this attempt which the Gospel of 
Jesus made. If we watch S. Paul speaking to his Gentile 
audiences at Lystra or Athens, he brings to bear upon the 
instincts of his hearers the strong magnet of a clear and 
definite Theism. But these addresses themselves implicitly 
contain another element : and we must now look to them for 
examples of the process, the careful earnest process, by which 
the Gospel did its rapid and yet most gradual work of conver- 
sion. Unquestionably, as S. Paul himself affirms, and as the 
Acts and the early apologetic writers shew us, it was done by 
asserting, and making good the assertion with careful proof 
and reasoning, that in the historical appearance and character 
of Jesus Christ, in His treatment while on earth, in His 
resurrection and heavenly exaltation, was to be found the 
true, natural, and legitimate fulfilment of that to which the 
Scriptures in various ways, direct and indirect, pointed, and 
of that which the hope of Israel, slowly fashioned by the Scrip- 
tures under the discipline of experience, had learnt to expect. 
This could be pressed home most directly on Jews, but it was 
available also for the large prepared class among Gentiles, 
to whom the pre-existence of these prophecies and anticipa- 
tions was known matter of fact, and to some of whom the 
Jewish Scriptures had been a personal discipline : the truth 
of the Gospel was one ' now made manifest and by the Scrip- 
tures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the 
everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience 
of faith.' The double requirement was fulfilled, and a religion, 
intrinsically universal and eternal, was seen by spiritually 
clear-sighted eyes to be in a most real and organic sense the 
flower of Israel's stalk. 

(3) If it has appeared that in the placing of the nation at 
the era, and in its character and belief, there was something 
much to be ' wondered at,' and, more definitely, something 
marvellously suited, not indeed to generate such a religion 
as that of the Gospel, but to foster and assist its growth when 

160 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

the seed of Divine fact should be sown on the prepared soil ; 
then we shall ask, finally, whether there is anything of like 
striking significance in the way in which this state of things 
had conie about? Let us pass by the causes by which the 
people of Israel obtained their external position. These, even 
including a thing so remarkable as the spontaneous restoration 
by an Oriental Empire of a deported people, are not in them- 
selves different from the ordinary workings of history ; though 
in combination they may contribute to deepen the impression 
of a hand fashioning out of many elements, and in many 
ways, a single great result. But how had the Jews come to be 
what they were ? how had they gained the religious treasure 
which they possessed, and the tenacity of religious and 
national life which played guardian to it? The whole 
course of Israel's history must, in one sense, give the answer 
to this question : and there are no controversies more difficult 
or more unsolved than those which are now raging round the 
problem of that course, its origin, stages, and order. But it 
may be possible to make some reflections on it without 
entangling ourselves very much in those controversies. 

(a) At the outset it is impossible not to be struck by the 
interest which the Jews themselves felt in the process of their 
history. That interest belongs to the very centre of their life 
and thought. It is not an offshoot of national vainglory, for 
(as has been so often remarked) it resulted in a record full- 
charged with the incidents of national failure and defection: 
it is not the result of a self-conscious people analysing its own 
moral and other development, for though the moral judgment 
is indeed always at work in the narratives and the poems, 
it is more occupied in drawing out the teaching of recurring 
sequences of sin and punishment than in framing a picture of 
the whole. The result is to lay a picture of development 
before us, but the aim is to treasure and record every detail 
of God's dealings with the nation of His choice. This is what 
gives continuity and unity to the whole : this is what lends to 
it its intense and characteristic uniqueness. And when we 
look steadily at this, we perceive afresh, what familiarity 
almost conceals from us, the distinctive quality of Israel's 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 1 6 1 

religion ; that it is not a system of teaching, nor a tradition of 
worship, nor a personal discipline, though it may include all 
these ; but that it is in itself a belief in the working of God, 
Who is the God of all the earth, but specially the God of 
Israel, and Who works indeed everywhere, but in an altogether 
special sense in Israel. In reflecting on their history they 
contemplate the object of their faith. Hence truth is to 
them not a philosophic acquisition, but lies in the words 
which had come from God faithfully treasured and received: 
it is revealed in word and act : goodness, in man or nation, is 
the faithful adherence to those conditions, under which the 
good purpose of God can work itself out and take effect : it is 
a correspondence to a purpose of grace : and the centre and 
depositary of their hope is neither the human race, nor any 
association for moral and religious effort, but an organism 
raised by Him who raises all the organisms of nature from a 
chosen seed, and drawn onwards through the stages by which 
family passes into nation and kingdom, and then through 
that higher discipline by which the natural commonwealth 
changes into the spiritual community of the faithful ' remnant.' 
If any one will try to realize the impression which Christianity 
made upon the heathen world, he will not fail to see how the 
new truth was able to impress men because it found these con- 
ceptions of revelation, grace, and an organic society of God's 
choice and shaping, all so strange and so impressive to the 
heathen world, ingrained as the natural elements of religion 
in the men whom it made its instruments. 

But why did the Jews so regard their history? For the 
answer we may revert to the other question, What made them 
what they were at the Christian era 1 ? For they had gone 
through a crisis calculated to destroy both their existence and 
their religion. It has been in fashion with some writers to 
emphasize the resemblances, and minimize the differences, 
between the religion of Israel and that of its neighbours. In 
view of this it becomes important to note the specific peril 
of ancient religions. That peril was that the close association 
of the nation with its god caused the failure of the one to 
appear a failure of the other, and to endanger or destroy the 


1 62 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

respect paid to him. The religion of a subdued or ruined 
people was, as we may say, a demonstrated failure. Senna- 
cherib's defiance of Hezekiah urges this with a conqueror's 
irony 1 . The case of the Ten Tribes had, probably, given an 
illustration of it within the circle of Israel itself. And in 
Judah, upon any shewing, there was enough of the feeling 
that Jehovah was responsible for His people, of the convic- 
tion that He would certainly protect His own, of the confi- 
dence resting on prosperity and liable to be shaken by its 
loss, to make the downfall of the state, carrying with it that 
of the Temple and the outer order of religion, an enormous 
peril to the religion itself and with it to the very existence 
of Israel. It is not difficult to discern the agency by 
which the peril was averted. That agency was Prophecy. 
Modern criticism, though it may quarrel with the inspiration 
or predictive power of the prophets, has given fresh and 
unbiassed witness to their importance as an historical pheno- 
menon. Kuenen 2 , for example, points out how at every 
turning-point in Israel's later history there stands a man 
who claims to bring a word of God to the people. Prof. 
Huxley 3 , in a recent article, has told us that ' a vigorous 
minority of Babylonian Jews,' that is, the Jews upon whom 
the full forces of prophecy bore, ' created the first consistent, 
remorseless, naked Monotheism, which, so far as history re- 
cords, appeared in the world . . . and they inseparably united 
therewith an ethical code, which, for its purity and its efficiency 
as a bond of social life, was, and is, unsurpassed.' Of what- 
ever fact may underlie this description, the prophets are at 
once evidence and authors. 

Now prophecy confronted the impending peril in the name 
of Jehovah : on the one side it displayed the enemy (whether 
as by Isaiah it prescribed a bound to his advance, or as by 
Jeremiah announced the catastrophe to be wrought by him) 
as himself utterly in Jehovah's hands, His axe or saw for 
discipline upon the trees of the forest; on the other side it 
shewed that Jehovah's obligation to Israel was conditioned by 

1 Isaiah xxxvi 18. " Hibbert Lectures, 1882, p. 231. 

3 Nineteenth Century, April, 1886. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 163 

His essential righteousness ; that national disaster might be 
Jehovah's necessary vengeance, and that His purpose for 
Israel which it re-asserted with fullest emphasis might need 
to be realized for an Israel purified by such discipline, a shoot 
from the stock of the felled tree, the remnant of an ' afflicted 
and poor people V And prophecy was beforehand with all this : 
it was not an afterthought to explain away a calamity : 
and so it fashioned in Israel at least a core of spiritual faith, 
to which outward disaster of polity and religion, however 
destructive, was not confounding, and which had stamina 
enough in it to draw wholesome though bitter nourishment 
from the hard Captivity discipline. This, when the flood 
came, was an ark for Israel's religion, and, in its religion, for 
the national life, which re-organized itself under new con- 
ditions round the nucleus of the religion. 

Thus, at the crisis and hinge of the historical development 
which issued in the wonderfully placed and constituted Israel 
of Christ's time, and which was crowned by the New Religion, 
we find this agency, which in itself would arrest our wonder. 
The more we look at it, the more wonderful it is. Every 
suggestion of comparison with heathen oracles, divination and 
the rest, can only bring out with more vivid effect the 
contrast and difference between it and all such things. It 
claims by the mouth of men transparently earnest and honest, 
to speak from God. It brings with it the highest credentials. 
moral, spiritual, historical : moral, for it spends what at first 
sight seems all its strength in the intrepid and scathing 
rebuke of the evils immediately round it, especially in the 
high places of society, against the lust, cruelty, avarice, 
frivolity, insolence, foul worships, which it found so rankly 
abundant : spiritual, for it speaks the language of an abso- 
lutely unworldly faith, and accomplishes a great spiritual 
work, such as we can hardly over-estimate, unless indeed with 
Prof. Huxley we distort its proportions so as to prejudice the 
earlier religion from which it sprang or the Christianity to 
which it contributed: historical, because occurring at the 
very crisis of Israel's history (750-550), it gained credence 

1 Isaiah x. 15 ; xi. i ; Zeph. iii. 12. 
M 2 

164 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and authority from the witness of events, and dealt with an 
emergency of the most perilous and bewildering kind, as not 
the most skilful opportunist could have dealt with it, by a use, 
as sublime as simple, of the principles of righteousness and 
faith. If we compare what the prophets did for their con- 
temporaries and what they did for the future of Israel and 
the world, and see that this was done, not by two sets of 
utterances working two different ways, but by a single 
blended strain of prophecy, we gain a double impression, of 
which the twofold force is astonishing indeed. It is gained 
without pressing their claim to predictive power, at least 
beyond the horizons of their own period. But it is impos- 
sible for any careful and candid reader of the words of the 
prophets to stop there, and not to feel that there is another 
element in them, not contained in a passage here and there 
but for ever reappearing, interwoven with the rest, and 
evidently felt by the prophets themselves to be in some 
sense necessary for the vindication and completion of their 
whole teaching. It is an element of anticipation and fore- 
sight. We see that this is so, and we see in part the 
method of it. It is bound up with, it springs out of, all that 
is spiritually and morally greatest in the prophets. Their 
marvellous, clear-sighted, steady certainty that the Lord who 
sitteth above rules all, that He is holy, and that unrighteous- 
ness in man or nations cannot prevail ; their insight piercing 
through the surface of history to underlying laws of 
providential order ; the strange conviction or consciousness, 
felt throughout the nation but centring in the prophets, that 
this God had a purpose for Israel : these deep things, which, 
however they came and whatever we think of them, make 
Israel's distinctive and peculiar glory, were accompanied by, 
and issued in, anticipations of a future which would vindicate 
and respond to them. Just as the belief in a future life for 
God's children was not taught as a set doctrine to the Jews, 
but grew with the growth of their knowledge of the Living 
and Holy God, and of man's relation as a spiritual being to 
Him, so with the predictions of which we speak. As it was 
given to the prophets to realize the great spiritual truths of 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 165 

present because eternal moment which they taught, it was 
given to them also to discern that these truths pointed to 
a future which should bring them vindication. The cloudy 
time of trial and confusion would one day come to a close ; 
the Sun whose rays they caught would one day shine 
out ; the partial and passing deliverances in which they 
taught men to see God's hand must one day issue in 
a deliverance of deeper moment, of lasting and adequate 
significance ; there would be an unbaring of God's arm, a 
manifesting of His power to decide, to justify, to condemn, 
and it would be seen in some final form why and how Israel 
was, in a distinctive sense, the people of the God of the whole 
earth ; that union between God and His people, of which the 
prophets were themselves mediators and which was so miser- 
ably imperfect and so constantly broken, would one day be 
complete ; and, finally, even the very instruments which He was 
using in the present, the Anointed King, the chosen Royal House, 
the Prophet- Servant of God, the holy hill of Zion, were charged 
with a meaning of which the significance was only in the 
future to become clear. Thus, in this free, deep, spiritual 
let us say it out, inspired manner the predictions of prophecy 
emerge and gather shape. Thus among the people which was 
most conservative and jealous of its own religious privilege, 
the promise most deeply cherished was one in which all 
nations of the earth should be blessed, and there is heard the 
strange announcement of a 'new covenant.' Thus it comes 
about that the most satisfying and satisfied of all religions 
becomes the one which, in its deepest meaning, in the minds 
of its most faithful followers, strains forward most completely 
beyond itself. Thus, as it has been said, ' Prophecy takes off 
its crown and lays it at the feet of One who is to be.' Thus 
a people who have become intensely and inexorably mono- 
theistic and to whom the Deity becomes more and more 
remote in awful majesty so that they do not dare to name 
His Name, carry down with them Scriptures which discover 
the strange vision of a human King with Divine attributes 
and strain towards some manifestation of God in present 
nearness. Thus amidst the pictures in which, with every 

1 66 7^/ie Religion of the Incarnation. 

varying detail, using the scenery, the personages, the nations, 
the ideas of its own day, the instinct of prophetic anticipa- 
tion finds expression, there emerges, with gradually gathering 
strength, a definite Hope, and some clear lineaments of that 
which is to be. 

For, be it observed, at this point interpretation, declaring 
what the prophets seem to us to-day to mean, passes into and 
gives way to historical fact. The most sceptical cannot deny 
either that the words in which the prophets spoke of the 
future, did as a matter of fact crystallize into a hope, a hope 
such as has no parallel in history, and of which distorted 
rumours were able to stir and interest the heathen world : or 
that they were, long before the time of Jesus, interpreted as 
sketching features, some general and shadowy, some curiously 
distinct and particular, of Messiah's work and kingdom. 

And then, face to face with this, stands another fact as 
confessedly historical. For, ' in the fulness of the time,' it did 
appear to men of many kinds who had the books in their hands, 
men with every reason for judging seriously and critically, 
and in most cases with the strongest prejudice in favour of an 
adverse judgment, that these prophecies were fulfilled in a King 
and a Kingdom such as they never dreamt of till they saw them. 
It would be a strange chapter in the history of delusion, if 
there were no more to add. But there is to add, first, that the 
King and the Kingdom whereto, (in no small part upon the 
seeming perilous ground of this correspondence with prophecy,) 
these men gave their faith, have proved to win such a spiritual 
empire as they claimed : and. further, that men like ourselves, 
judging at the cool distance of two thousand years, are unable 
to deny that in the truest sense of ' fulfilment,' as it would be 
judged by a religious mind, Jesus and His Kingdom do ' fulfil 
the prophets,' fulfil their assertion of a unique religious destiny 
for Israel by which the nations were to profit, of a time when 
the righteousness of God should be revealed for the dis- 
comfiture of pride and sin and for the help of the meek, of 
a nearer dwelling of God with His people, of a new covenant, 
and of the lasting reign of a perfect Ruler. 

To some minds it may weaken, but to others it will cer- 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 167 

tainly intensify, the impression thus created, if they are asked 
to observe that now and again there occur in the Jewish 
Scriptures words, passages, events, in which with startling 
distinctness, independence, and minuteness there stind forth 
features of what was to be. It is as if the anticipation which 
fills the ai r with glow focussed itself here and there in spark- 
ling points of light which form and flash and fade away again. 
We may confidently assert that in the .case of such passages as 
the 22nd and uoth Psalms or the 9th and 53rd Chapters of 
Isaiah the harder task is for him who will deny, than for him 
who will assert, a direct correspondence between prediction 
and fulfilment. If they stood alone, general scientific con- 
siderations might make it necessary to undertake the harder 
task. Standing out as they do from such a context and 
background as has been here indicated, the interpretation 
which sees in them the work of a Divine providence shaping 
out a ' sign ' for the purpose which in each Christian age, 
and especially in the first, it has actually subserved, is the 
interpretation which is truest to all the facts. They are the 
special self-betrayal of a power which is at work throughout, 
of which the spiritual ear hears the sound, though we are 
often unable distinctly to see the footprints. 

It seems then impossible, upon such a view of the phenomena 
of prophecy as has been here roughly and insufficiently indi- 
cated, to deny that whatever appearance of preparation we 
may discern in the condition outward and inward of the Jews 
in the time of Christ, is strongly corroborated by a like ap- 
pearance of preparation in the process by which they had 
become what they were. 

(V) We have selected out of all the foregoing history the 
epoch and the influence of the prophets for several reasons. 
They preside over the most critical period of Israel's history. 
They seem to bring to most pronounced expression the spirit 
and character which pervades the whole of that history. They 
are known to us through their own writings : and we are 
therefore on ground where (comparatively speaking) the pre- 
mises are uncontroverted. And as it is the fashion perhaps 
to discredit the argument of prophecy partly, no doubt, on 

1 68 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

account of the technical form in which it was ordinarily pre- 
sented it is important to re-assert that in all its main 
strength that argument holds its ground, reinforced in- 
deed, as we think, by the increased power to apprehend its 
breadth and solidity which our more historically trained 
modern minds should have gained. But selection of what is 
most salient should imply no neglect of the rest ; and the 
argument, or view of the facts, which has here for clearness 
sake been abbreviated, and mainly centralized upon the work 
and implications of prophecy, can be deepened as the drift of 
the great lines of Israel's discipline is more deeply realized. 
Thus, for example, little or nothing has been here said of the 
Law. Yet, without foreclosing any discussion as to its sources 
and development, we can see that the law of God was a factor 
in every stage of Israel's history, and that in the making 
of the prepared Israel of Christ's time, the law in its fullest 
and most developed shape was, and had been for ages, a 
paramount influence. No influence more concentrated and 
potent can be found in history. And to see the deepest drift 
of it we have no need to speculate on what might have been, 
or was sure to be. Historical documents point us to what 
was. The Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, and the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, lay open respectively two ways of its 
working. On the one side it appears as a great witness for 
righteousness. Men were schooled to live under a sense of 
peremptory obligation ; to comply scrupulously, exactly, sub- 
missively with an unquestioned authority. This sense and 
temper is liable to great abuse : it lends itself when abused to 
a mechanical morality, to a morbid casuistry, to the com- 
placency of an external perfectness. It was so abused very 
widely among the Jews. But it is nevertheless an indispensable 
factor in a true morality, to which it lends the special power of 
command: and in Israel it conferred this power because it 
connected obligation with the will of a righteous God. This is 
expressed in the repeated sanction ' I am the Lord your God,' 
following precept after precept of the law, and in the sum- 
mary claim ' Be ye holy, for I am holy.' Evidently here there 
is that which transcends all mechanical schemes of obedience ; 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 169 

there is an infinite standard. As such it pointed and im- 
pelled onwards towards the true religion in which faith and 
holiness should be entirely at one. As such meanwhile it 
stimulated and dismayed the deeper spirits : stimulating them 
by the loftiness of its demand, dismaying them by the proved 
impossibility of that perfect compliance which alone was com- 
pliance at all. Thus the foundations were laid of a temper at 
once robust and humble, confident and diffident ; though they 
were laid upon a contradiction which the law had in itself 
no power to resolve. There was indeed (here we take up the 
guidance of the Epistle to the Hebrews) one part of the law 
which acknowledged that contradiction, which half promised 
to resolve it, but having no real power to do so, could only 
shape and deepen the demand for some solution. This was, 
of course, the sacrificial system. The sacrificial system opens 
up quite other thoughts from those of strict demand and strict 
obedience. It points to quite another side of religious and 
moral development. Yet it starts from the same truth of a 
Holy God Who requires, and inasmuch as He is holy must 
require, a perfect obedience. Only it acknowledges the in- 
evitable fact of disobedience. It embodies the sense of need. 
It appeals to, and as part of the Divine law it reveals, a 
quality in the Supreme Goodness which can go beyond com- 
manding and condemning, to forgive and reconcile. It creates 
in a word the spirit of humility, and it feels, at the least, after 
a God of love. 

What a profound preparation there is in this for the life 
which Christ blessed in the Beatitudes and inaugurated by 
all that He was and did, and for the truth of the Divine being 
and character which was set forth in Him. Yet the law 
only prepared for this, and made the demand which this met. 
It made no answer to its own demand. It could not reconcile 
its own severity, and its own hopes of mercy : its apparatus 
of sacrifice was in itself absolutely and obviously insufficient 
for any solution of the contradiction. It was a marvellous 
discipline which, while it trained its people so far, demanded 
the more urgently something which all its training could 
never give nor reach. 


1 70 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

(<?) The work of prophecy and the work of the law was 
also (if we can distinguish causes which were so much affected 
by one another) the work of history. To the work of the 
prophets, indeed, the history of both the past and the succeed- 
ing times was essential, the former to supply their work with 
a standing ground, the latter to engrain its teaching into the 
life of the nation. We look back, and we ask, What gave 
the prophets their advantage, what was the fulcrum of their 
lever 1 Trained to observe the processes of religious evolution, 
we must refuse to believe with Professor Huxley that a lofty 
monotheism and a noble morality sprang out of the ground 
among a ' minority of Babylonian Jews.' But we shall be 
prepared to find that the rudimentary stages differ much 
from the mature. The beginnings of life, as we know them, 
are laid in darkness : they emerge crude and childish : the 
physical and outward almost conceals the germ of spiritual 
and rational being which nevertheless is the self, and which 
will increasingly assert itself and rule. It may be so with that 
organism which God was to make the shrine of His Incarnation. 
We may have to learn that the beginnings of Israel are more 
obscure, more elementary, less distinctive from surrounding 
religions, than we had supposed. We need not fear to be as 
bold as Amos in recognising that what was in one aspect the 
unique calling of God's Son out of Egypt 1 , was in another but 
one among the Divinely ruled processes of history, such as 
brought up the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from 
Kir 2 . We need not be more afraid than Ezekiel to say that 
the peculiar people were an offshoot (if so it should be) of 
natural stocks, with the Amorite for father and the Hittite 
for mother 3 . But all this will hardly take from us that 
sense of continuous shaping of a thing towards a Divine 
event which has always been among the supports of faith. 
We shall see that the prophetic appeals imply a past, and 
that their whole force lies in what they assume, and only 
recal to their hearers ; the special possession of Israel by 
Jehovah, His selection of them for His own, His deliverances 

1 Hosea xi. i . 2 Amos ix. 7. 

3 Ezekiel xvi. 3. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 171 

of them from Egypt and onwards, giving the earnest of a 
future purpose for which they were preserved, and for which 
His definite promises were committed to them, to the seed of 
Abraham, the house of Israel, the line of David. These things 
the prophets imply, standing upon these they speak with all 
the force of those who need only bid the people to realize 
and to remember, or at most to receive from God some fresh 
confirmation and enlargement of their hopes 1 . 

Or again, from the work of the prophets we look forward, 
and when we have recovered from our surprise at seeing that 
a dreary interval of five centuries separates the Evangelical 
prophecy, which seemed so ready for the flower of the Gospel, 
from the time of its blooming, we discern how the processes of 
that interval were utilized in realizing, ingraining, diffusing 
the great truths of prophetic teaching. The return without 
a monarchy and under an ecclesiastical governor, and the 
dispersion through many lands, necessitated in act that trans- 
formation of the political into the spiritual polity, almost of 
the nation into the Church, of which Isaiah's work was the 
germ. The institution of the synagogues, which belongs to 
this time and in which public worship was detached from all 
local associations and from the ancient forms of material sacri- 
fice, was, as it were, the spiritual organ of the new ubiquitous 
cosmopolitan Jewish life. Yet contemporaneously the cen- 
tralizing influences gained strength. The conservative work 
of Ezra and of the Scribes and Rabbis at whose head he stands, 
gathered up and preserved the treasures which gave a con- 
sciously spiritual character to Israel's national loyalty ; and 
guarded with the hedge of a scrupulous literalism, what needed 
some such defence to secure it against the perils implied in 

1 It is interesting to note that, ac- own likeness. The prophets do not 
cording to the record preserved by imagine an earlier row of prophets 
Israel of their own history, that which like themselves, put in like the por- 
Kuenen says of later times, that ' at traits of the early Scottish kings at 
each turning-point of the history Holyrood, to fill the blanks of history, 
stands a man who claims to bring a The early figures are not cut to pro- 
word from God.' is exactly true of phetic pattern ; they have each their 
the older history too ; Abraham. Moses, distinct individuality of character and 
Samuel, David, are all in this sense office, only they have a unity of Divine 
prophets. Yet there is no appearance commission and service, 
of a later age forming a past in its 

172 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

being carried wide over the world. By the resistance in 
Palestine under Syrian rule to Hellenizing insolence, and in 
the Dispersion to the fascinations and pleasures of Hellenizing 
culture, and by the great Maccabean struggle, the nation was 
identified with religious earnestness and zeal in a way of 
which we only see the caricature and distortion in the Phari- 
saism which our Lord denounced. 

Thus, if we compare our Lord's time with the great age of 
prophecy, we see how much has been acquired. Time has 
been given for the prophetic influences to work. There has 
been loss, but there has also been gain. That conscious, ex- 
plicit, and magnificently uncompromising Monotheism, which 
in the mouth of the Evangelical prophet was quivering with 
the glow and passion of freshly inspired realization, has by 
'the end of the age' had time to bring everything in the 
sphere of religion under its influence. It had discovered its 
points of contact with the highest aspirations of the Greek 
thought which on intellectual lines felt its way towards God. 
And it had unfolded its own corollaries: it had drawn along 
with it the great spiritual truths which cohere with the belief 
in one Living and True God : and Israel in the Pharisee epoch 
had passed, we hardly know how, into secure if not undisputed 
possession of the belief in a future life, in a world of spirits, 
and in the spiritual character of prayer. 

But there was another and more direct manner, in which 
the work of history interlaced with what we have indicated 
as the work of the law. In the formation of the temper of 
chastened confidence which is so characteristic of later Israel, 
a part must evidently be given to the discipline of national 
experience saddened by departed glory, and with the shadows 
thickening over it. Just as we can see that the populations 
of the Empire were in a sense more ready to learn of Christ 
than the young self-reliant Greeks of Sparta or Athens could 
have been, so we can see in such language as that of the 1 1 gth 
Psalm or of the 9th chapter of Daniel a temper to which the 
meek and lowly Christ would make an appeal which might 
have been lost upon the rough times of the judges or the 
prosperous age of the monarchy. Old age has come and with 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 173 

it the wisdom of a chastened spirit. This is not difficult to 
see, and it is important to take it into account. It means that 
the comparatively normal discipline of life has brought with 
it (as doubtless it is meant to do alike in personal and national 
life) a spiritual gain. But it is important to see how much of 
the process and the effect remains unexplained. The chastening 
is obvious, but whence the confidence ? 

It is in some far less normal cause, in something which 
seems distinctive of Israel, that we have to find the adequate 
explanation of the whole result. We have to ask (as Pascal 
so keenly felt 1 ) why a nation records its failures and mis- 
fortunes as being chastisements of wilful, repeated, and dis- 
graceful fault, and then jealously guards the record as its most 
cherished possession. It would be easy to suggest that there 
is in this an egotism clothing itself in humility : and to point 
out that this egotism would explain the confidence which still 
looked forward to the future, which anticipated greatness for 
an ' afflicted and poor people,' and a blessing to all the nations 
of the earth from its own history. Only this is just to slur 
the difficulty, and under the invidious word ' egotism ' to 
disguise that wonderful instinct of a destiny and a mission 
which is so strangely unlike egotism, and which allowed, or 
even produced, in so profound a form the self-condemnation 
which egotism refuses. 

Doubtless the effects of these preparing forces were felt, 
and their meanings discerned, only by a few. Not only were 
they ' not all Israel that were of Israel,' but the bulk of the 
nation and its representative and official leaders were blind. 
They were off the way, down the false tracks of literalist 
Rabbinism, or of one-sided Essene asceticism, or of earthly 
visions of a restored kingdom, or (as in Alexandria) of a 
philosophized Judaism. The issues were the crucifixion of 
the Lord, and all which Judaism, without and within the 
Church, did to extinguish the Gospel and persecute its fol- 
lowers in its first age. It is right to refer to this, but there 
are probably few to whom it would cause any difficulty. 
To the observer of the world's history it is a common sight 

1 Pensees, ii. 7 2. 

1 74 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

that the true issues and the distinctive work of a people is 
worked out not by the many or by the prominent, but by 
the few, and often the obscure. To the student of Jewish 
history that which has made Israel what it is in world-signi- 
ficance appears throughout the course of its history as a gold 
thread running through a web of very different texture. It can 
be no surprise that the end should be of a piece with the rest. 
There, in a climax of sharpest contrast, we see the antithesis 
which marks the history throughout. The training issues in 
a S. Mary, a Simeon, in those who ' waited for the consolation 
of Israel ' on the one side, and in the ' Scribes and Pharisees, 
hypocrites,' on the other. The natural issue of Israel's life and 
tendencies is seen in the cold and sterile impotence which, 
because it is the ' corruption of the best,' is the most irreversible 
spiritual ruin ; while beside and amidst this there was 
fashioned by a grace and power above nature, though in a 
perfectly natural way, the true Israel which realize all that 
' Israel according to the flesh ' professed yet betrayed, guarded 
yet obscured. And if we have at all rightly discerned as a 
principle of Divine preparation that it should be negative as 
well as positive, and should demonstrate to the world before 
Christ was given, how little the world's own wisdom or effort 
could supply His place : we shall not wonder that time was 
thus given for Israel to try out as it were its second experi- 
ment, and to shew that by its selfishness and arrogance, by 
its ' carnalness,' it could warp and distort its later spiritual 
constitution, even more than its former temporal one, out of 
all likeness of what God would have it be. ' The last state 
of the man ' was ' worse than the first 1 .' 

But the observation of these predominant currents and 
forms of Jewish life and thought and religion has this further 
value, that it shews the variety, the energy, and the unlike- 
ness to one another of the tendencies present in Israel. 
They emphasize the fact that the history of Israel was in no 
sense working itself out towards the production by its own 
forces of the true religion which went forth from the midst of 

1 S. Matt, xii 45. It should be observed that the words were spoken of ' this 
wicked generation.' 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 175 

it. They remind us how intractable the problem of finding by 
human ingenuity the solution which could harmonize in one 
issue elements so powerful and so alien from each other ; 
which with a perfect spiritual liberty could combine an asser- 
tion of the permanent value of the law ; which with no 
withdrawal from and despair of the world could secure all 
that was sought by Essene purity and self-denial ; which, itself 
utterly unworldly, could satisfy the idea of a restored monarchy 
and a glory for Israel; which while bringing no philosophy 
could achieve what Jewish philosophizing had desired, in a 
capture of the world's reason by Jewish truth. 

III. In the last words we touch that with which this essay 
may perhaps fitly end. If its drift has been in any sense true, 
there stands before us, as perhaps the most striking feature of 
the whole situation, the co-existence of the two preparations, 
the one general, indirect, contributory, and consisting only 
in an impressive convergence and centering of the lines of 
ordinary historical sequences ; the other special, directly intro- 
ductory, and characterized by the presence of a distinctive 
power, call it what we may, a genius for religion, or more 
truly and adequately a special grace of the Spirit of God, 
which is new and above ordinary experience, even as life is 
when it enters the rest of nature, and reason is when it appears 
in the world of life. The two preparations pursue their course 
unconscious of one another, almost exclusive of one another. 
Greek wisdom and Roman power have no dream of coming 
to receive from the narrow national cult of humbled and 
subject Israel. And Israel, even taught by the great prophets, 
could hardly find a place in her vision of the future for any 
destiny of the nations of the world. To this antagonism, or 
more strictly this ignoring of one another, there are excep- 
tions, exceptions of the kind which emphasize the character 
of the situation which they hardly modify. Two streams of 
such force and volume as those of Jewish religion and classical 
life or culture could not touch and leave one another altogether 
uninfluenced, though the influence was characteristically dif- 

1 76 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

ferent. On the side of the world the spiritual needs of indi- 
viduals caused numbers, not inconsiderable, to receive influences 
which made them ready to act as seeding ground and ferment for 
the Gospel. On the side of Israel, the strong sense of mission 
and of truth made the contact with Greek culture suggest the 
ambition to use it as a great instrument, to teach it to 
acknowledge and witness to the God of Israel, who was God 
of the whole earth : and the results, in the Greek of the 
Septuagint and in the Helleno-Judaic writings of Alexandria 
and elsewhere, were invaluable in fashioning language and 
thought for Christ's service. But all the more distinctly, 
in the first case, does the antagonism, the gulf fixed, the 
mutual aversion, the impossibility humanly speaking of fusion 
between Jew and Gentile come out before our eyes. And, in 
the second case, the unreal roinancings of the Sibylline works, 
the apparently isolated work of Philo, and the opportunism 
of a politician like Josephus, have all the character of hybrids, 
and shew no sign of the vital fusion by which out of a great 
wedlock a new thing comes to be. 

The two preparations stand apart : they go their own way. 
There is indeed in them a strange parallelism of common 
human experience and human need. Both have tried their 
experiments, made their ventures, won their successes, gone 
through their disciplines of disenchantment and failure. 
Both are conscious of the dying of life : in Israel there is ' no 
prophet more ' ; outside it philosophy has not the creative- 
ness and energy of youth but the quiet acquiescence and mild 
prudence of age, and life, public and private, is without ade- 
quate scope or aim. In both the ' tendencies towards ' a Gospel 
are as far as possible from making a ' tendency to produce ' 
one. In both there is the same desire for which the Jew alone 
can find conscious expression : it is ' Quicken me ! ' Both 
need life. Both have no help in themselves. But in the 
lines which they follow and the hopes which they frame there 
is neither likeness nor compatibility. ' The Greeks seek after 
wisdom 1 .' The intellect, and those who are distinctively 
men of the intellect, can hardly imagine human advance 

1 I Cor. i. 22. 

iv. Preparation in History for Christ. 177 

otherwise than in terms of the intellect. Philosophy conceives 
of it as a conquest of philosophical result, or even as an increase 
of philosophical material. It is the pain of an advanced and 
critical time, like that of which we speak, to feel this, and 
yet to feel that the experiments of speculation have gone far 
enough to shew that by none of their alternative ways can 
there be any way out to the peace of certain truth. And 
yet it seems that, without abdication of reason, there is no 
possibility of going any other way : the Greeks (and in this 
sense all the world was Greek) could only look for what they 
wanted in the form of a new philosophy. 

But ' the Jews require a sign.' Totally different, but equally 
exclusive, were the conditions under which the Jew could 
conceive of a new epoch. The dread of exhausted resources 
did not haunt him, for he looked not to human capacity but 
to Divine gift and interposition. But he thought that he 
knew the form in which such interposition would come ; it 
was not to be primarily a teaching, (it is the Samaritan and 
not the Jew who is recorded as expecting in Messiah one who, 
' when He is come, will tell us all things a '); it must appear in 
action, ' with observation 2 ,' with pomp and scenic display, with 
signs, and signs which, in a very visible and tangible sense, 
should seem to be from heaven 3 , in particular with circum- 
stances of triumph and conquest, and with an exaltation of 
Israel to the glories of her monarchy many times enlarged. 

Such are the demands ; the things sought and needed ; the 
conditions prescribed ; definite, severally uncompromising, 
mutually unlike, and even conflicting. And then from out of 
Israel, without moral or political earthquake, without over- 
whelming display of supernatural force, nay even, to a super- 
ficial eye, with all the appearance of weakness and failure, 
without any rescue for Israel, with no attempt to present 
itself in philosophical form, with none of the strain and 
elaboration of a conscious effort to combine many in one, 
but rather with a paradoxical and offending ' simplicity ' and 

1 S. John iv. 25. in each case following some of our 

1 S. Luke xvii. 20. Lord's own signs. 

* S. Matt.xii. 38 ; S. John vi. 30, 31, 


1 78 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

' foolishness ' of mere assertion : there conies forth a Thing in 
which on the one side Jews whom we all recognise to be the 
best Jews, Jews in the truest and deepest sense find the 
whole spirit and meaning, even down to its detail, of the life 
and the hope of Israel summed up and fulfilled ; which left 
them no sense of disappointment, but rather a consciousness of 
having had hopes only too narrow and low ; which gave them 
the exulting sense of ' reigning as kings,' with a ' King of 
Israel ' : while on the other side this same Thing was felt by 
' Greeks' as a ' wisdom ' flooding their reasons with a light of 
truth and wisdom (sophia), which met the search of philosophy 
(philo-sophia) l , but also in simple and wise alike drew forth 
and ministered to needs which philosophy had but half seen 
and wholly failed to satisfy, enabling conscience to be candid 
and yet at peace, building up a new cosmopolitan fellowship, 
and restoring to human life dignity and value, not only in 
phrase and theory, but in truth. ' There came forth a Thing,' 
or rather there came forth One, in Whom all this was done. 
The question rises, ' Whom say we that He is 1 ' And though 
the answer must be reached in different ways by different 
men, and the witness to Him in Whom is the sum of all, 
must needs be of many kinds ; yet the convergence of many 
lines (as we have been permitted to trace it) to One in whom 
they are all combined and yet transcended, to One whom they 
can usher in but were powerless to produce, may be no slight 
corroboration of the answer which was accepted, as we have 
to remember, by the lowly Jesus with significant solemnity : 
' Thou art the Christ,' the Fulfiller of all high and inspired 
Jewish hope ; ' the Son of the Living God V His Son, 
as the Son of Man, in whom all that is human reaches ful- 
ness ; and as the Son of God, who brings down to man what 
he has been allowed to prove to himself that he cannot dis- 
cover or create. 

1 This comes before us vividly in and for this reason I am a philo- 
.Tustin Martyr's account of his own sopher.' 
conversion. Dial. c. Tryph. 3 if. 'Thus a S. Matt. xvi. 16. 




N 2 



I. THE last few years have witnessed the gradual acceptance 
by Christian thinkers of the great scientific generalization of 
our age, which is briefly, if somewhat vaguely, described as 
the Theory of Evolution. History has repeated itself, and 
another of the ' oppositions of science ' to theology has proved 
upon inquiry to be no opposition at all. Such oppositions 
and reconciliations are older than Christianity, and are part 
of what is often called the dialectical movement ; the move- 
ment, that is to say, by question and answer, out of which all 
progress comes. But the result of such a process is some- 
thing more than the mere repetition of a twice-told tale. It 
is an advance in our theological thinking ; a definite increase 
of insight ; a fresh and fuller appreciation of those ' many 
ways ' in which ' God fulfils Himself.' For great scientific 
discoveries, like the heliocentric astronomy, are not merely 
new facts to be assimilated ; they involve new ways of look- 
ing at things. And this has been pre-eminently the case 
with the law of evolution ; which, once observed, has rapidly 
extended to every department of thought and history, and 
altered our attitude towards all knowledge. Organisms, 
nations, languages, institutions, customs, creeds, have all 
come to be regarded in the light of their development, and 
we feel that to understand what a thing really is, we must 
examine how it came to be. Evolution is in the air. It is 
the category of the age ; a ' partus temporis ' ; a necessary 
consequence of our wider field of comparison. We cannot 
place ourselves outside it, or limit the scope of its operation. 
And our religious opinions, like all things else that have 

1 82 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

come down on the current of development, must justify their 
existence by an appeal to the past. 

It is the object of the following pages to consider what 
popular misconceptions of the central doctrine of our religion, 
the Incarnation, have been remedied ; what more or less for- 
gotten aspects of it have been restored to their due place ; 
what new lights have been thrown upon the fulness of its 
meaning, in the course of our discussion of the various views 


of evolution. 

In face of the historical spirit of the age, the study of past 
theology can never again be regarded as merely a piece of 
religious antiquarianism. And there are two classes of mind 
to which it should be of especial service. Many an earnest 
worker in the Christian cause, conscious how little the 
refinements of philosophy can influence for good or evil the 
majority of men, and generously impatient of all labour wasted, 
when the labourers are so few, is apt to under-estimate what 
he considers the less practical departments of theology ; for- 
getful that there are souls, and those among the noblest, to 
whom the primary avenue of access is the intellect, and 
who can only be led homeward by the illuminative way. 
The Christian of this type may be materially helped 
towards welcoming wider views, by being convinced that 
what he has been too easily apt to regard as metaphysical 
subtleties, or as dangerous innovations, or as questionable 
accommodations of the Gospel to the exigencies of passing 
controversy, are after all an integral part of the great Ca- 
tholic tradition. On the other hand, many plausible at- 
tacks upon the Christian creed are due to the inadequate 
methods of its professed interpreters. Fragments of doc- 
trine, torn from their context and deprived of their due 
proportions, are brandished in the eyes of men by well- 
meaning but ignorant apologists as containing the sum 
total of the Christian faith, with the lamentable consequence 
that even earnest seekers after truth, and much more its 
unearnest and merely factious adversaries, mislead themselves 
and others into thinking Christianity discredited, when in 
reality they have all along been only criticising its carica- 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 183 

ture. Such men need reminding that Christianity is greater 
than its isolated interpreters or misinterpreters in any 
age ; that in the course of its long history it has accumu- 
lated answers to many an objection which they in their 
ignorance think new ; and that, in the confidence of its 
universal mission and the memory of its many victories, 
it still claims to be sympathetic, adequate, adaptable to the 
problems and perplexities of each successive age. 

The general tendency of thought since the Reformation 
has been in the direction of these partial presentations of 
Christianity. The Reformers, from various causes, were so 
occupied with what is now called Soteriology, or the scheme 
of salvation, that they paid but scant attention to the other 
aspects of the Gospel. And the consequence was that a 
whole side of the great Christian tradition, and one on which 
many of its greatest thinkers had lavished the labours of a 
lifetime, was allowed almost unconsciously to lapse into com- 
parative oblivion ; and the religion of the Incarnation was 
narrowed into the religion of the Atonement. Men's views 
of the faith dwindled and became subjective and self-regard- 
ing, while the gulf was daily widened between things sacred 
and things secular ; among which latter, art and science, 
and the whole political and social order, gradually came to 
be classed. 

Far otherwise was it with the great thinkers of the early 
Church ; and that not from an under-estimate of the saving 
power of the Cross, which was bearing daily fruit around them, 
of penitence, and sanctity, and martyrdom ; but from their 
regarding Christian salvation in its context. They realized 
that redemption was a means to an end, and that end the 
reconsecration of the whole universe to God. And so the 
very completeness of their grasp on the Atonement led them 
to dwell upon the cosmical significance of the Incarnation, 
its purpose to ' gather together all things in one.' For it 
was an age in which the problems of the universe were 
keenly felt. Philosophical thinking, if less mature, was not 
less exuberant than now, and had already a great past behind 
it. And the natural world, though its structural secrets were 

184 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

little understood, fascinated the imagination and strained the 
heart with its appealing beauty. Spiritualism, superstition, 
scepticism, were tried in turn but could not satisfy. The 
questionings of the intellect still pressed for a solution. And 
the souls of Christians were stirred to proclaim that the 
new power which they felt within them, restoring, quicken- 
ing, harmonizing the whole of their inner life, would also 
prove the key to all these mysteries of matter and of 

So it was that the theology of the Incarnation was gra- 
dually drawn out, from the teaching of S. Paul and of 
S. John. The identity of Him Who was made man and dwelt 
among us, with Him by Whom all things were made and 
by Whom all things consist ; His eternal pre-existence as 
the reason and the word of God, the Logos ; His indwelling 
presence in the universe as the source and condition of all 
its life, and in man as the light of His intellectual being; 
His Resurrection, His Ascension, all these thoughts were 
woven into one magnificent picture, wherein creation was 
viewed as the embodiment of the Divine ideas, and therefore 
the revelation of the Divine character ; manifesting its Maker 
with increasing clearness at each successive stage in the 
great scale of being, till in the fulness of time He Himself 
became man, and thereby lifted human nature, and with it 
the material universe to which man is so intimately linked ; 
and triumphing over the sin and death under which creation 
groaned and travailed, opened by His Resurrection and then 
by His Ascension vistas of the glorious destiny purposed 
for His creatures before the world was. ' Factus est quod 
sumus nos, uti nos perficeret esse quod est ipse V 

Such is the view of the Incarnation in what may be called 
its intellectual aspect, which we find gradually expressed 
with increasing clearness by the Fathers, from Justin to 
Athanasius. And with all its deep suggestiveness, it is still a 
severely simple picture, drawn in but few outlines, and those 
strictly scriptural. It was born of no abstract love of meta- 
physic, and stands in striking contrast to the wild specu- 

1 Irenaeus. 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 185 

lations of the time. Its motive and its method were both 
intensely practical ; its motive being to present Christianity 
to the mind as well as to the heart ; and its method no 
more than to connect and interpret and explain the definite 
statements of S. Paul and S. John. Passing over the dark 
ages, when thought was in comparative abeyance, and the 
energies of the Church absorbed in the work of conversion 
and organization, we come, in the twelfth and following 
centuries, to a second period of intellectual ferment, less 
brilliant than that which characterized the decadence of the 
old civilization, but instinct with all the fire and restlessness 
of youth. Unsobered as yet by experience, and unsupplied 
with adequate material from without, thought preyed upon 
itself and revelled in its new-found powers of speculation. 
Fragments of the various heresies which the Fathers had 
answered and outlived reappeared with all the halo of 
novelty around them. Religions were crudely compared and 
sceptical inferences drawn. Popular unbelief, checked in a 
measure by authority, avenged itself by ridicule of all things 
sacred. It was a period of intense intellectual unrest, too 
many-sided and inconsequent to be easily described. But 
as far as the anti-Christian influences of the time can be 
summarized they were mainly two: the Arabic pantheism, 
and the materialism which was fostered in the medical 
schools ; kindred errors, both concerned with an undue es- 
timate of matter. And how did Christian theology meet 
them 1 ? Not by laying stress, like the later Deists, upon 
God's infinite distance from the world, but upon the closeness 
of His intimacy with it : by reviving, that is, with increased 
emphasis the Patristic doctrine of the Incarnation, as the 
climax and the keystone of the whole visible creation. There 
is a greater divergence of opinion, perhaps, among the School- 
men than among the Fathers ; and a far greater amount 
of that unprofitable subtlety for which they are apt to be 
somewhat too unintelligently ridiculed. But on the point 
before us, as on all others of primary importance, they are 
substantially unanimous, and never fail in dignity. 

' As the thought of the Divine mind is called the Word, 

1 86 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Who is the Son, so the unfolding of that thought in external 
action (per opera exteriora) is named the word of the 
Word V 

' The whole world is a kind of bodily and visible Gospel of 
that Word by which it was created 2 .' 

' Every creature is a theophany 3 .' 

' Every creature is a Divine word, for it tells of God V 

' The wisdom of God. when first it issued in creation, came 
not to us naked, but clothed in the apparel of created things. 
And then when the same wisdom would manifest Himself to 
us as the Son of God, He took upon Him a garment of flesh 
and so was seen of men 5 .' 

' The Incarnation is the exaltation of human nature and 
consummation of the Universe 6 .' 

Such quotations might be multiplied indefinitely from the 
pages of the Schoolmen and scholastic theologians. And the 
line of thought which they indicate seems to lead us by a 
natural sequence to view the Incarnation as being the pre- 
destined climax of creation, independently of human sin. 
The thought is of course a mere speculation, 'beyond that 
which is written,' but from its first appearance in the twelfth 
century it has been regarded with increasing favour ; for it is 
full of rich suggestiveness, and seems to throw a deeper 
meaning into all our investigations of the world's gradual 

Again, from the relation of the Word to the universe follows 
His relation to the human mind. For ' that life was the light 
of men.' 

' The created intellect is the imparted likeness of God,' says 
S. Thomas ; and again, ' Every intellectual process has its 
origin in the Word of God Who is the Divine Reason.' ' The 
light of intellect is imprinted upon us by God Himself 
(immediate a Deo).' ' God continually works in the mind, 
as being both the cause and the guide of its natural light.' 

1 S. Thorn. Aq. c. Gent. iv. 13. * S. Bonav. In Eccles. ci. t. ix. 

2 H. de Boseham (Migne)'v. 190. 5 H. de S.Victor. (^Migne) v. 177. 
P- ' 3?.",- P- 58o. 

- Scot. Er. (Migne) v. 122. p. 302. 6 S. Thorn. Aquinas. 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 187 

' In every object of sensitive or rational experience God Himself 
lies hid V ' All intelligences know God implicitly, in every 
object of their knowledge 2 .' 'Christ is our internal teacher 
and no truth of any kind is known but through Him ; though 
He speaks not in language as we do, but by interior illu- 
mination 3 .' 'The philosophers have taught us the sciences, 
for God revealed them to them 4 .' 

II. The point to be noticed in the teaching of which such 
passages are scattered samples, is that the Schoolmen and 
orthodox mystics of the middle age, with Pantheism, mate- 
rialism, rationalism surging all around them, and perfectly 
conscious of the fact, met these errors, not by denying the 
reality of matter, or the capacity of reason, as later apologists 
have often done, but by claiming for both a place in the 
Theology of the Word. And this Theology of the Word was, 
in reality, quite independent of, and unaffected by, the subtleties 
and fallacies and false opinions of the age, cobwebs of the 
unfurnished intellect which time has swept away. It was 
a magnificent framework, outside and above the limited 
knowledge of the day and the peculiarities of individual 
thinkers ; an inheritance from the Patristic tradition, which 
the Fathers, in their turn, had not invented, but received 
as Apostolic doctrine from Apostolic men, and only made 
more explicit by gradual definition, during centuries when, 
it has been fairly said, 'the highest reason, as indepen- 
dently exercised by the wise of the world, was entirely 
coincident with the highest reason as inspiring the Church 5 .' 
We have now to consider whether this view of the Incarnation, 
which, though in the countries most influenced by the Refor- 
mation it has dropped too much out of sight, has yet never 
really died out of the Church at large, is in any way incom- 
patible with the results of modern science ; or whether, on the 
contrary, it does not provide an outline to which science 
is slowly but surely giving reality and content. 

And at the outset we must bear in mind one truth which is 

1 S. Bonav. de Reduct. sub fin. * Id. Lum. Eccles. S. 5. 

2 S. Thorn. Aq. de Verit. 22. 2. i. 5 Mark Pattison. 

3 S. Bonav. Lum. Eccles. S. 12. 

1 88 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

now recognised on all sides as final viz. that the finite 
intellect cannot transcend the conditions of finitude, and 
cannot therefore reach, or even conceive itself as reaching, an 
absolute, or, in Kantian phraseology, a speculative knowledge 
of the beginning of things. Whatever strides science may 
make in time to come towards decomposing atoms and forces 
into simpler and yet simpler elements, those elements will 
still have issued from a secret laboratory into which science 
cannot enter, and the human mind will be as far as ever from 
knowing what they really are. Further, this initial limitation 
must of necessity qualify our knowledge in its every stage. 
If we cannot know the secret of the elements in their sim- 
plicity, neither can we know the secret of their successive 
combinations. Before the beginning of our present system, 
and behind the whole course of its continuous development, 
there is a vast region of possibility, which lies wholly and for 
ever beyond the power of science to affirm or to deny. It is 
in this region that Christian theology claims to have its roots, 
and of this region that it professes to give its adherents certi- 
tude, under conditions and by methods of its own. And of 
those conditions and methods it fearlessly asserts that they 
are nowise inconsistent with any ascertained or ascertainable 
result of secular philosophy. 

As regards the origin of things, this is obvious. Science 
may resolve the complicated life of the material universe into 
a few elementary forces, light and heat and electricity, and 
these perhaps into modifications of some still simpler energy ; 
but of the origin of energy (TO Trpwroy K.IVOVV) it knows no 
more than did the Greeks of old. Theology asserts that in 
the beginning was the Word, and in Him was life, the life of 
all things created : in other words, that He is the source of 
all that energy, whose persistent, irresistible versatility of 
action is for ever at work moulding and clothing and 
peopling worlds. The two conceptions are complementary, 
and cannot contradict each other. 

But to pass from the origin to the development of things : 
the new way of looking at nature was thought at first both 
by its adherents and opponents alike to be inimical to the 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 189 

doctrine of final causes. And here was a direct issue joined 
with Theology at once : for the presence of final causes or 
design in the universe has not only been in all ages one of 
the strongest supports for natural religion ; it is contained in 
the very notion of a rational creation, a creation by an 
Eternal Reason. And this was supposed to be directly 
negatived by the doctrine of the survival of the fittest 
through natural selection : for if of a thousand forms, 
which came by chance into existence, the one which hap- 
pened to correspond best with its environment survived, 
while the remainder disappeared, the adaptation of the sur- 
vivor to its circumstances would have all the appearance of 
design, while in reality due to accident. If, therefore, this 
principle acted exclusively throughout the universe, the result 
would be a semblance of design without any of its reality, 
from which no theological inference could be drawn. But 
this consequence of natural selection obviously depends upon 
the exclusiveness of its action. If it is only one factor among 
many in the world's development ; while there are instances 
of adaptation in nature, and those the more numerous, for 
which it fails to account, what has been called its dysteleo- 
logical significance is at an end. Now its own author soon 
saw and admitted the inadequacy of the theory of natural 
selection, even in biology, the field of its first observation, to 
account for all the facts : while countless phenomena in 
other regions, such as the mechanical principles involved in 
the structure of the universe, the laws of crystallography 
and chemical combination, the beauty of nature taken in 
connection with its effect upon the mind, irresistibly suggest 
design, and render the alternative hypothesis, from its mere 
mathematical improbability, almost inconceivable. And there 
is now, therefore, a general disposition to admit that the force 
of this particular attack upon the doctrine of final causes has 
been considerably overstated. 

But in the course of its discussion an important difference 
has been brought to light between external and internal 
purposes or ends. The kind of design in nature which first 
arrested early thinkers was its usefulness to man. Even in 

1 90 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

scenery, it has been suggested, they saw the utility before 
the beauty. And so they came to look upon all natural 
phenomena as having for their final cause the good of man ; 
and the world as a machine, a contrivance of which the parts 
have no value except as contributing to the work of the 
whole, and the whole exists only to produce a result outside 
and independent of itself, an external end, as if corn should 
exist solely to provide food for man. This was not an untrue 
conception ; a shallow thing to say of the reason for which 
Socrates believed in God ; but it was partial and inadequate, 
as Bacon and Spinoza shewed. And we have now come to 
regard the world not as a machine, but as an organism, a 
system in which, while the parts contribute to the growth of 
the whole, the whole also reacts upon the development of the 
parts ; and whose primary purpose is its own perfection, 
something that is contained within and not outside itself, an 
internal end: while in their turn the myriad parts of this 
universal organism are also lesser organisms, ends in and for 
themselves, pursuing each its lonely ideal of individual com- 
pleteness. Now when we look at nature in this way, and 
watch the complex and subtle processes by which a crystal, 
a leaf, a lily, a moth, a bird, a star realize their respective 
ideals with undisturbed, unfailing accuracy, we cannot help 
attributing them to an intelligent Creator. But when we 
further find that in the very course of pursuing their primary 
ends, and becoming perfect after their kind, the various parts 
of the universe do in fact also become means, and with in- 
finite ingenuity of correspondence and adaptation, subserve 
not only one but a thousand secondary ends, linking and 
weaving themselves together by their mutual ministration 
into an orderly, harmonious, complicated whole, the signs of 
intelligence grow clearer still. And when, beyond all this, we 
discover the quality of beauty in every moment and situation 
of this complex life ; the drop of water that circulates from 
sea to cloud, and cloud to earth, and earth to plant, and plant 
to life-blood, shining the while with strange spiritual sig- 
nificance in the sunset and the rainbow and the dewdrop 
and the tear ; the universal presence of this attribute, so 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 191 

unessential to the course of nature, but so infinitely powerful 
in its appeal to the human mind, is reasonably urged as 
a crowning proof of purposeful design. 

The treatment which these various aspects of teleology have 
received, during the last few years, may be fairly called ex- 
haustive : and the result of all the sifting controversy has 
been to place the evidence for design in nature on a stronger 
base than ever : partly because we feel that we have faced the 
utmost that can be urged against it ; partly because, under 
scientific guidance, we have acquired a more real, as distinct 
from a merely notional apprehension of the manifold adapta- 
tions of structure to function, which the universe presents ; 
and these adaptations and correspondences, when grasped in 
their infinite multiplicity, furnish us with a far worthier and 
grander View of teleology than the mechanical theory of 
earlier days. 

All this is in perfect harmony with our Christian creed, that 
all things were made by the Eternal Reason ; but more than 
this, it illustrates and is illustrated by the further doctrine of 
His indwelling presence in the things of His creation ; render- 
ing each of them at once a revelation and a prophecy, a thing 
of beauty and finished workmanship, worthy to exist for its 
own sake, and yet a step to higher purposes, an instrument 
for grander work. 

God tastes an infinite joy 
In infinite ways one everlasting bliss, 
From whom all being emanates, all power 
Proceeds : in whom is life for evermore, 
Yet whom existence in its lowest form 
Includes ; where dwells enjoyment, there is He : 
With still a flying point of bliss remote, 
A happiness in store afar, a sphere 
Of distant glory in full view. 

And science has done us good service in recalling this 
doctrine to mind. For it has a religious as well as a theo- 
logical importance, constituting, as it does, the element of truth 
in that higher Pantheism which is so common in the present 
day. Whether the term higher Pantheism is happily chosen 
or not, the thing which it denotes is quite distinct from 

192 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Pantheism proper, with its logical denial of human personality 
and freedom. It is the name of an emotion rather than 
a creed; that indescribable mystic emotion which the poet, 
the. artist, the man of science, and all their kindred feel in 
contemplating the beauty or the wonder of the world. Vague 
as it is, and indefinite, this sentiment is still one of the 
strongest of which our nature is susceptible, and should be 
recognised as an integral element in all true religion. Yet 
for want of such recognition on the part of Christians it is 
often allowed to gravitate nearer and nearer to pure Pantheism, 
with which it has, in reality, no essential affinity. We cannot 
therefore over-estimate the importance of restoring to its due 
place in theology the doctrine of the Divine immanence in 
nature, to which this sentiment is the instinctive witness. 
Fathers, schoolmen, mystics, who were quite as alive to any 
danger of Pantheism as ourselves, yet astonish us by the 
boldness of their language upon this point ; and we need not 
fear to transgress the limits of the Christian tradition in 
saying that the physical immanence of God the Word in 
His creation can hardly be overstated, as long as His moral 
transcendence of it is also kept in view. 

' God dwelleth within all things, and without all things, 
above all things and beneath all things Y says S. Gregory the 

' The immediate operation of the Creator is closer to 
everything than the operation of any secondary cause,' says 
S. Thomas 2 . 

And Cornelius a Lapide, after comparing our dependence 
upon God to that of a ray on the sun, an embryo on the 
womb, a bird on the air, concludes with the words, ' Seeing 
then that we are thus united to God physically, we ought also 
to be united to Him morally 3 .' 

Here are three typical theologians, in three different ages, 
not one of them a mystic even, using as the language of sober 
theology words every whit as strong as any of the famous 
Pantheistic passages in our modern literature ; and yet when 

1 Mag. Mor. ii. 12. 2 S. Thorn. Aq. ii. Sent. i. i. 

3 In Act. Apost. c. 17. v. 28. 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 193 

raet with in that literature they are commonly regarded as 
pleasing expressions of poetic dreams, very far away from, if 
not even inconsistent with what is thought to be dogmatic 

To sum up then, the reopening of the teleological question 
has not only led to its fuller and more final answer, but has 
incidentally contributed to revive among us an important 
aspect of the Theology of the Word. 

The next point upon which the theory of evolution came in 
contact with received opinion, was its account of the origin of 
man. Man, it was maintained, in certain quarters, was only 
the latest and most complex product of a purely material process 
of development. His reason, with all its functions of imagi- 
nation, conscience, will, was only a result of his sensibility, and 
that of his nervous tissue, and that again of matter less and less 
finely organized, till at last a primitive protoplasm was reached; 
while what had been called his fall was in reality his rise, 
being due to the fact that with the birth of reason came self- 
consciousness ; or the feeling of a distinction between self and 
the outer world, ripening into a sense, and strictly speaking 
an illusory sense of discord between the two. 

Theologians first thought it necessary to contest every 
detail of this development, beginning with the antiquity of 
man ; and some are still inclined to intrench themselves in 
one or two positions which they think impregnable, such as 
the essential difference in kind between organized and in- 


organic matter, or again between animal instinct and the 
self-conscious reason of man : while others are content to 
assume a sceptical attitude and point to the disagreement 
between the men of science themselves, as sufficient evidence 
of their untruth. But none of these views are theologically 
needed. The first is certainly, the second possibly unsound, 
and the third, to say the least of it, unkind. It is quite true 
that the evolution of man is at present nothing more than an 
hypothesis, and an hypothesis open to very grave scientific 
objections. The attempts to analyse reason and conscience 
back into unconscious and unmoral elements, for all their 
unquestioned ingenuity, are still far from being conclusive ; 


194 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and then there is the geological admissibility of the time 
which it would require, and that is still a matter of hopeless 
controversy between scientific experts. And even if these 
and numerous kindred difficulties were to be removed in time 
to come, the hypothesis would still be no nearer demonstra- 
tion ; for the only evidence we can possibly obtain of pre- 
historic man is his handiwork of one kind or another, his 
implements or pictures, things implying the use of reason. In 
other words, we can only prove his existence through his 
rationality ; through his having been, on the point in ques- 
tion, identical in kind with what now he is. And suspense 
of judgment therefore upon the whole controversy is, at 
present, the only scientific state of mind. 

But there are facts upon the other side ; the undoubted an- 
tiquity of the human race ; the gradual growth which can be 
scientifically traced, in our thought and language and morality, 
and therefore, to the extent that functions react upon their 
faculties, even in our conscience and our reason too ; and then 
the immense presumption from the gathering proofs of all other 
development, that man will be no exception to the universal 
law. All these positive indications at least suggest the 
possibility that the difficulties of the theory may one day 
vanish, and its widest chasms close. And we cannot there- 
fore be too emphatic in asserting that theology would have 
nothing whatever to fear from such a result. When we see 
energy and atoms building up an harmonious order, we feel 
there is an inner secret in the energy and atoms, which we 
cannot hope to penetrate by merely watching them at work. 
And so, when we see human minds and wills weaving a veil 
over the universe, of thought and love and holiness, and are 
told that all these things are but higher modes of material 
nature, we only feel that the inner secret of material nature 
must be yet more wonderful than we supposed. But though 
our wonder may increase, our difficulties will not. If we 
believe, as we have seen that Christian Theology has always 
believed, in a Divine Creator not only present behind the 
beginning of matter but immanent in its every phase, and 
co-operating with its every phenomenon, the method of His 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 195 

working, though full of speculative interest, will be of no 
controversial importance. Time was when the different kinds 
of created things were thought to be severed by impassable 
barriers. But many of these barriers have already given way 
before science, and species are seen to be no more inde- 
pendent than the individuals that compose them. If the 
remaining barriers between unreason and reason, or between 
lifelessness and life should in like manner one day vanish, 
we shall need to readjust the focus of our spiritual eye to the 
enlarged vision, but nothing more. Our Creator will be 
known to have worked otherwise indeed than we had 
thought, but in a way quite as conceivable, and to the 
imagination more magnificent. And all is alike covered by 
the words ' without Him was not anything made that was 
made : and in Him was life.' In fact the evolutionary origin 
of man is afar less serious question than the attack upon final 
causes. Its biblical aspect has grown insignificant in pro- 
portion as we have learned to regard the Hebrew cosmology 
in a true light. And the popular outcry which it raised was 
largely due to sentiment, and sentiment not altogether un- 
tinged by human pride. 

We may pass on therefore from the evolution of man and his 
mind in general, to his various modes of mental activity in 
science and philosophy and art. Here the Christian doctrine 
is twofold : first, that all the objects of our thought, mathe- 
matical relations, scientific laws, social systems, ideals of art, 
are ideas of the Divine Wisdom, the Logos, written upon the 
pages of the world ; and secondly, that our power of reading 
them, our thinking faculty acts and only can act rightly by 
Divine assistance ; that the same ' motion and power that 
impels' 'all objects of all thought' impels also ' all thinking 
things.' And both these statements are met by objection. 
In the first place, it is urged, there is no fixity in the universe, 
and it cannot therefore be the embodiment of Divine ideas. 
All things live and move under our eyes. Species bear no 
evidence of having been created in their completeness ; on the 
contrary they are perpetually undergoing transmutation, and 
cannot therefore represent ideas, cannot have been created on 

o 2 

196 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

a plan. For ideas, in proportion to their perfection, must be 
definite, clean-cut, clear. The answer to this objection is 
contained in what has been already said upon the subject 
of organic teleology. But an analogy drawn from human 
thinking may illustrate it further. It is in reality the ideas 
which our mind has done with, its dead ideas which are clean- 
cut and definite and fixed. The ideas which at any moment 
go to form our mental life are quick and active and full of 
movement, and melt into each other and are ever developing 
anew. A book is no sooner finished and done with, than it strikes 
its author as inadequate. It becomes antiquated as soon as its 
ideas have been assimilated by the public mind. And that 
because the thought of author and public alike is alive, and 
ever moving onward ; incapable of being chained to any one 
mode of expression ; incapable of being stereotyped. The 
highest notion we can frame therefore of a mind greater than 

O a 

our own is of one that has no dead ideas, no abstract or 
antiquated formulae, but whose whole content is entirely, 
essentially alive. And the perpetual development which we 
are learning to trace throughout the universe around us would 
be the natural expression therefore of that Logos Who is the 

But when we turn from the objective to the subjective side 
of knowledge, we are met with a second objection. The 
doctrine that the Divine Logos co-operates with the human 
reason, is supposed to be inconsistent with the undoubted fact 
that many earnest and successful thinkers have been if not 
atheistic, at least agnostic ; unable, that is, to attain to the 
very knowledge to which, as it would seem on the Christian 
hypothesis, all intellectual effort should inevitably lead. But 
this difficulty is only superficial. When we say that the 
Divine reason assists, we do not mean that it supersedes the 
human. An initiative still lies with man ; and he must 
choose of his own accord the particular field of his intel- 
lectual pursuit. When he has chosen his line of study, and 
followed it with the requisite devotion, he will arrive at the 
kind of truth to which that particular study leads, the physi- 
cist at laws of nature, the philosopher at laws of thought, 

v. The Incarnation and Development, 197 

the artist at ideal beauty, the moralist at ethical truth ; and 
in each case, as we believe, by Divine assistance, his discoveries 
being in fact revelations. But the method, the education, the 
experience involved in different studies are so distinct, that few 
in a lifetime can reach the eminence that teaches with autho- 
rity, or even the intelligence that thoroughly appreciates, more 
than one department of the complex world of thought. And 
if a man wanders from his own province into unfamiliar 
regions, he naturally meets with failure in proportion to 
his hardihood. In the case of the special sciences this is 
universally recognised. No astronomer would think of dog- 
matizing on a question of geology, nor a biologist on the 
details of chemistry or physics. But when it is a question 
between science and philosophy, the rule is often forgotten ; 
and the spectacle of scientific specialists blundering about in 
metaphysics is painfully common in the present day : while 
strange to say, in the case of theology this forgetfulness reaches 
a climax, and men claim casually to have an opinion upon 
transcendent mysteries, without any of the preparation which 
they would be the first to declare needful for success in the 
smallest subsection of any one of the branches of science. 

Nor is preparation all that is wanted. Science is impossible 
without experiment, and experiment is the lower analogue of 
what in religion is called experience. As experiment alone gives 
certainty in the one case, so does experience alone in the other. 
And it is only the man who has undergone such experience, 
with all its imperative demands upon his whole character and 
life, that can justly expect satisfaction of his religious doubts 
and needs ; while < nly those who, like S. Paul or S. Augustine, 
have experienced it in an exceptional degree, are entitled to 
speak with authority upon the things to which it leads. 
Here again a human analogy may help us. For in studying a 
human character there are different planes upon which we may 
approach it. There are the external aspects of the man, the 
fashion of his garments, the routine of his life, the regulation 
of his time, his official habits ; all which, it may be noted 
in passing, in the case of a great character, are uniform, not 
because thev were not once the free creation of his will, but 

198 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

because he knows the practical value of uniformity in all such 
things ; and all these externals are open to the observation even 
of a stranger. Then there are the man's thoughts, which 
may be withheld or revealed at his pleasure ; and these can 
only be understood by kindred minds, who have been trained 
to understand them. Lastly, there are his will and affections, 
the region of his motives, the secret chamber in which his real 
personality resides ; and these are only known to those in- 
timate friends and associates whose intuition is quickened by 
the sympathy of love. Now all these stages are gone through 
in the formation of a friendship. First we are struck by a 
man's appearance, and so led to listen to his conversation, and 
thence to make his acquaintance, and at last to become his 
friend. And so with the knowledge of God. The man of 
science, as such, can discover the uniformities of His action in 
external nature. The moral philosopher will further see that 
these actions ' make for righteousness ' and that there is a 
moral law. But it is only to the spiritual yearning of our 
whole personality that He reveals Himself as a person. This 
analogy will make the Christian position intelligible ; but for 
Christians it is more than an analogy. It is simply a state- 
ment of facts. For, to Christians, the Incarnation is the final 
sanction of ' anthropomorphism,' revealing the Eternal Word as 
strictly a Person, in the ordinary sense and with all the 
attributes which we commonly attach to the name *. 

Consequently, upon all this we are quite consistent in 
maintaining that all great teachers of whatever kind are 
vehicles of revelation, each in his proper sphere, and in 
accepting their verified conclusions as Divinely true ; while 
we reject them the moment they transgress their limits, 
as thereby convicted of unsound thinking, and therefore de- 
prived of the Divine assistance which was the secret of their 
previous success. And though such transgression may in many 
cases involve a minimum of moral error, there are abundant 
instances in the history of thought that it is not always so. 
Francis Bacon, and the penitent, pardoned Abelard are typical, 
in different degrees, of a countless multitude of lesser men. 

1 Cp. p. 64. 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 199 

* For our knowledge of first principles,' says S. Augustine, 
' we have recourse to that inner troth that presides over 
the mind. And that indwelling teacher of the mind is 
Christ, the changeless virtue and eternal wisdom of God, 
to which every rational soul has recourse. But so much 
only is revealed to each as his own good or evil will 
enables him to receive 1 .' 

' Nor is it the fault of the Word,' adds S. Thomas, ' that 
all men do not attain to the knowledge of the truth, but 
some remain in darkness. It is- the fault of men who do 
not turn to the Word and so cannot fully receive Him. 
Whence there is still more or less darkness remaining among 
men, in proportion to the lesser or greater degree in which 
they turn to the Word and receive Him. And so John, to 
preclude any thought of deficiency in the illuminating power 
of the Word, after saying " that life was the light of men," 
adds " the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness com- 
prehended it not." The darkness is not because the Word does 
not shine, but because some do not receive the light of 
the Word ; as while the light of the material sun is shining 
over the world, it is only dark to those whose eyes are 
closed or feeble 2 .' 

It has been necessary to dwell upon this doctrine because 
it has an important bearing upon two further questions, 
which the philosophy of evolution has broiight into new 
prominence, the relation of Christianity to previous philoso- 
phy and other religions. It was the fashion, not long ago, 
to give an undue value to the part played by environment 
or surrounding circumstances in the creation of characters 
and institutions and creeds, to the exclusion of all elements 
of native originality. And the attempt was made accordingly, 
in various ways, to represent Christianity as the natural 
product of the different religions and philosophies which 
were current in the world at the time of its appearing. 
But the further study of evolution has qualified this whole 
mode of thought by the way in which, as we have seen 
above, it has led us to look at things as organisms rather 

1 S. Aug. deMagist. 38. t. i. p. 916. a S. Thorn. Aq. cont. Gent. iv. 13. 

2OO The Religion of the Incarnation. 

than machines. A machine has no internal principle of 
unity. Its unity is impressed upon it from without. And 
it may be granted therefore, for the sake of argument, that 
we might conceive a machine or number of machines as 
formed like the patterns in a caleidoscope by a happy coin- 
cidence of atoms ; and man, if he were only a machine, as 
strictly the creature of circumstance. But an organism is 
a different thing. Dependent as it is upon its environment 
in an hundred various ways, it is yet more dependent upon 
its own selective and assimilative capacity, in other words 
upon its own individuality, its self. And so the notions 
of individuality, . originality, personal identity have been 
restored to their place in the world of thought. The 
old error lingers on, and is sometimes crudely re-asserted, 
especially in its anti-Christian bearing ; but it has been 
discredited by science, and is in fact a thing of the past. 
And in consequence of this, the attempt can no longer be 
plausibly made to account for Christianity apart from the 
personality of Jesus Christ. The mythical theories have 
had their day. And it is recognised on all hands that mere 
aspiration can no more create a religion than appetite can 
create food. A foundation needs a founder. 

But the attack thus diverted from our religion glances off on 
our theology. The Christian religion, it is granted, was founded 
by Jesus Christ ; but its theological interpretation is viewed 
as a misinterpretation, a malign legacy from the dying philo- 
sophies of Greece. This objection is as old as the second cen- 
tury, and has been revived at intervals in various forms, and 
with varying degrees of success. Modern historical criticism 
has only fortified it with fresh instances. But it has no 
force whatever if we believe that the Divine Word was for 
ever working in the world in co-operation with human 
reason; inspiring the higher minds among the Jews with 
their thirst for holiness, and so making ready for the coming 
of the Holy One in Jewish flesh: but inspiring the Greeks 
also with their intellectual eagerness, and preparing them 
to recognise Him as the Eternal Reason, the Word, the Truth ; 
and to define and defend, and demonstrate that Truth to the 

v. The Incarnation and Development, 201 

outer world. The fact that Greek philosophy had passed its 
zenith and was declining did not make its influence upon 
Christianity an evil one, a corruption of the living by the 
dead. It was only dying to be incorporated in a larger life. 
The food that supports our existence owes its power of nu- 
trition to the fact, that it too once lived with an inferior 
life of its own. And so the Greek philosophy was capable 
of assimilation by the Christian organism, from the fact 
that it too had once been vitally inspired by the life that is 
the light of men. And the true successors of Plato and Aris- 
totle were the men of progress who realized this fact ; not 
Celsus, Lucian, Porphyry, but the Fathers of the Church. 

Clement and Origen, Athanasius and Augustine, the Grego- 
ries and Basil understood Greek philosophy as clearly as 
S. Paul understood Judaism, and recognised its completion 
as plainly in the Incarnation of the Word. Nor was this 
view of the Incarnation in the one case, any more than in 
the other, assumed for a merely apologetic purpose. These 
men were essentially philosophers, among the foremost of 
their age. They knew and have testified what philosophy 
had clone for their souls, and what it could not do ; how 
far it had led them forward; and of what longings it had 
left them full. True, philosophy had as little expected Wis- 
dom to become incarnate, and that amongst the barbarians, the 
outcast and the poor, as Judaism had expected Messiah to 
suffer, and to suffer at the hand of Jews. But no sooner 
was the Incarnation accomplished, than it flooded the whole 
past of Greece no less than Judaea with a new light. This 
was what it all meant ; this was what it unwittingly aimed 
at ; the long process of dialectic and prophecy were here 
united in their goal. 

' Those who lived under the guidance of the Eternal Reason 
(p.fTa Ao'you /Stwo-ayres) as Socrates, Heraclitus, and such-like 
men, are Christians/ run the well-known words of Justin 
Martyr, ' even though they were reckoned to be atheists in 
their day.' (Ap. i. 46.) Different minds have always differed, 
and will continue to differ widely as to the degree in which 
Greek thought contributed to the doctrines of the Trinity and 

2O2 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

the Incarnation. It is a difficult and delicate question for 
historical criticism to decide. But the essential thing to bear 
in mind is that the Christian doctrine of the Logos amply 
covers any possible view which criticism may establish upon 
the point. For, in the light of that doctrine, it is merely 
a question of the degree in which the Eternal Word chose 
to reveal Himself through one agency rather than another. 

Any attack, therefore, upon our theology for its connection 
with Greek thought, is powerless to disturb us ; since we 
accept the fact but give it another, a deeper interpretation : 
while we rejoice in every fresh proof that the great thoughts 
of the Greek mind were guided by a higher power, and 
consecrated to a nobler end than ever their authors dreamed 
of; and that the true classic culture is no alien element but a 
legitimate ingredient in Catholic, complete Christianity. 

And the same line of thought gives us a clue to the 
history of religious development, the latest field to which the 
philosophy of evolution has been extended. For though a 
superficial comparison of religions, with a more or less 
sceptical result, has often been attempted before, as for 
instance in the thirteenth century with its well-known story of 
the three impostors ; anything like a scientific study of them 
has been impossible till now. For now for the first time we 
are beginning to have the facts before us ; the facts consisting 
in the original documents of the various historic creeds, and 
accumulated observations on the religious ideas of uncivilized 
races. In both these fields very much remains to be done ; 
but still there is enough done already to justify a few general- 
izations. But the subject is intensely complex, and there has 
been far too great a tendency, as in all new sciences, to rush 
to premature conclusions. For example, there is the shallow 
scepticism which seizes upon facts, like the many parallelisms 
between the moral precepts of earlier religions and the sermon 
on the Mount, as a convincing proof that Christianity contains 
nothing that is new. No serious student of comparative 
religions would justify such an inference; but it is a very 
common and mischievous fallacy in the half-culture of the 
day. Then there is the rash orthodoxy, that is over eager to 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 203 

accept any result that tallies with its own preconceived 
opinions as, for instance, the belief in a primitive monotheism. 
No doubt several very competent authorities think that the 
present evidence points in that direction. But a majority of 
critics equally competent think otherwise. And meanwhile, 
there is a mass of evidence still waiting collection and inter- 
pretation, which may one day throw further light upon the 
point. Under such circumstances, therefore, it is as impolitic 
as it is unscientific to identify Christian apology with a 
position which may one day prove untenable. Attention has 
already been called to a similar imprudence in connection 
with Biogenesis, and the history of past apology is full of 
warnings against such conduct. Then, again, there is the 
converse view which is often as glibly stated as if it were al- 
ready a scientific truism ; the view that religion was evolved 
out of non-religious elements, such as the appearance of dead 
ancestors in dreams. This rests, to begin with, on the sup- 
position that the opinions of uncivilized man, as we now find 
him, are the nearest to those of man in his primitive 
condition ; which, considering that degradation is a re- 
cognised factor in history, and that degradation acts more 
powerfully in religion than in any other region, is a very 
considerable assumption. But even granting this, the psy- 
chological possibility of the process in question, as well as 
the lapse of time sufficient for its operation, are both as yet 
unproved. It is an hypothetical process, happening in 
an hypothetical period ; but, logically considered, nothing 


All this should make us cautious in approaching the com- 
parative study of religions. Still, even in its present stage, it 
has reached some general results. In the first place, the 
universality of religion is established as an empirical fact. 
Man, with a few insignificant exceptions which may fairly 
be put down to degradation, within the limits of our observa- 
tion, is everywhere religious. The notion that religion was 
an invention of interested priestcraft has vanished, like many 
other eighteenth century fictions, before nineteenth century 
science. Even in the savage races, where priestcraft is most 

204 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

conspicuous, the priest has never created the religion, but al- 
ways the religion the priest. Beyond this fact it is unsafe to 
dogmatize. There is abundant evidence of early nature-wor- 
ship in very various forms, but whether this was the degraded 
offspring of purer conceptions, or as is more generally supposed 
the primitive parent from which those conceptions sprang, is 
still an open question. The universality of the fact is all 
that is certain. 

Again, there is a progressive tendency observable in the 
religions of the world ; but the progress is of a particular kind, 
and largely counteracted by degeneracy. Individuals elevate, 
masses degrade religion. There is no progress by insensible 
modifications ; no improvement of a religion in committee. 
Councils like those of Asoka or Chosroes can only sift and 
popularise and publish what it needed a Buddha or Zara- 
thustra to create. And so religion is handed on, from one 
great teacher to another, never rising above the level of its 
founder or last reformer, till another founder or reformer 
comes ; while in the interval it is materialized, vulgarized, 

And from the nature of this progress, as the work of great 
individuals, another consequence has historically followed ; viz. 
that all the pre-Christian religions have been partial, have 
emphasized, that is to say, unduly if not exclusively one re- 
quirement or another of the religious consciousness, but never 
its complex whole. For the individual teacher, however great, 
cannot proclaim with prophetic intensity more than one aspect 
of a truth ; and his followers invariably tend to isolate and 
exaggerate this aspect, while any who attempt to supply its 
complement are regarded with suspicion. Hence the parties 
and sects and heresies of which religious history is full. The 
simplest illustration of this is the fundamental distinction 
between Theism and Pantheism, or the transcendence and 
immanence of God ; the one often said to be a Semitic, the 
other an Aryan tendency of thought. But however this may 
be, both these principles must be represented in any system 
which would really satisfy the whole of our religious instincts ; 
while, as a matter of fact, they were separated by all the pro- 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 205 

Christian religions, and are separated by Mahometanism and 
Buddhism, the only two religious systems which compete with 
Christianity to-day. 

These, then, are a few broad results of our comparative survey 
of religions. That religion, however humble the mode of its 
first appearing, is yet universal to man. That it progresses 
through the agency of the great individual, the unique person- 
ality, the spiritual genius ; while popular influence is a counter- 
agent and makes for its decay. That its various develop- 
ments have all been partial, and therefore needed completion, 
if the cravings of the human spirit were ever to be set at rest. 

And all this is in perfect harmony with our Christian 
belief in a God Who, from the day of man's first appearance 
in the dim twilight of the world, left not Himself without 
witness in sun and moon, and rain and storm-cloud, and the 
courses of the stars, and the promptings of conscience, and the 
love of kin : and Who the while was lighting every man that 
cometh into the world, the primaeval hunter, the shepherd 
chieftain, the poets of the Vedas and the Gathas, the Chaldaean 
astronomer, the Egyptian priest, each, at least in a measure, 
to spell that witness out aright ; ever and anon when a heart 
was ready revealing Himself with greater clearness, to one or 
another chosen spirit, and by their means to other men ; till 
at length, in the fulness of time, when Jews were yearning 
for one in whom righteousness should triumph visibly ; and 
Greeks sighing over the divorce between truth and power, 
and wondering whether the wise man ever would indeed be 
king ; and artists and ascetics wandering equally astray, in 
vain attempt to solve the problem of the spirit and the flesh ; 
' the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace 
and truth.' The pre-Christian religions were the age-long 
prayer. The Incarnation was the answer. Nor are we tied 
to any particular view of the prehistoric stages of this develop- 
ment. We only postulate that whenever and however man 
became truly man, he was from that moment religious, or 
capable of religion ; and this postulate deals with the region 
that lies beyond the reach of science, though all scientific 
observation is, as we have seen, directly in its favour. 

206 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

In short, the history of the pre-Christian religion is like 
that of pre-Christian philosophy, a long preparation for the 
Gospel. We are familiar enough with this thought in its 
Jewish application from the teaching of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews. But it seems to be often forgotten that the princi- 
ples laid down in that Epistle admit of no limitation to any 
single race of men. They are naturally illustrated from 
Hebrew history in a writing addressed to Hebrews. But 
their scope is universal. They compel their own application 
to every religious history, which the growth of our knowledge 
brings to light. And from this point of view the many pagan 
adumbrations of Christian doctrine, similarities of practice, 
coincidences of ritual, analogies of phrase and symbol, fall 
naturally into place. The fathers and early missionaries 
were often perplexed by these phenomena, and did not 
scruple to attribute them to diabolic imitation. And even 
in the present day they are capable of disturbing timid 
minds, when unexpectedly presented before them. But all 
this is unphilosophical, for in the light of evolution the 
occurrence of such analogies is a thing to be expected ; while 
to the eye of faith they do but emphasize the claim of 
Christianity to be universal, by shewing that it contains 
in spiritual summary the religious thoughts and practices and 
ways of prayer and worship, not of one people only, but of all 
the races of men. 

' In the whole of our Christian faith,' says Thomassin, ' there 
is nothing which does not in the highest degree harmonize 
with that natural philosophy which Wisdom, who made all 
things, infused into every created mind, and wrote upon the 
very marrow of the reason ; so that, however obscured by the 
foul pleasures of the senses, it never can be wholly done 
away. It was this hidden and intimate love of the human 
mind, however marred, for the incorruptible truth, which 
won the whole world over to the gospel of Christ, when once 
that Gospel was proclaimed V 

But when all this has been said, there is a lingering sus- 
picion in many minds, that even if the details of the doctrine 
1 Thomassin, Incarn. L 15. 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 207 

of development are not inconsistent with Christianity, its 
whole drift is incompatible with any system of opinion which 
claims to possess finality. And if Christianity were only a 
system of opinion, the objection might be plausible enough. 
But its claim to possess finality rests upon its further claim 
to be much more than a system of opinion. The doctrine of 
development or evolution, we must remember, is not a doc- 
trine of limitless change, like the old Greek notion of per- 
petual flux. Species once developed are seen to be persistent, 
in proportion to their versatility, their power, i. e. of adapting 
themselves to the changes of the world around them. And 
because man, through his mental capacity, possesses this 
power to an almost unlimited extent, the human species is 
virtually permanent. Now in scientific language, the In- 
carnation may be said to have introduced a new species into 
the world a Divine man transcending past humanity, as 
humanity transcended the rest of the animal creation, and 
communicating His vital energy by a spiritual process to 
subsequent generations of men. And thus viewed, there is 
nothing unreasonable in the claim of Christianity to be at 
least as permanent as the race which it has raised to a higher 
power, and endued with a novel strength. 

III. But in saying this we touch new ground. As long as 
we confine ourselves to speaking of the Eternal Word as ope- 
rating in the mysterious region which lies behind phenomena, 
we are safe it may be said from refutation, because we are 
dealing with the unknown. But when we go on to assert 
that He has flashed through our atmosphere, and been seen 
of men, scintillating signs and wonders in His path, we are 
at once open to critical attack. And this brings us to the 
real point at issue between Christianity and its modern 
opponents. It is not the substantive body of our knowledge, 
but the critical faculty which has been sharpened in its ac- 
quisition that really comes in conflict with our creed. As- 
suming Christianity to be true, there is, as we have seen, 
nothing in it inconsistent with any ascertained scientific fact. 
But what is called the negative criticism assumes that it can- 
not be true, because the miraculous element in it contradicts 

208 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

experience. Still criticism is a very different thing from 
science, a subjective thing into which imagination and per- 
sonal idiosyncrasy enter largely, and which needs therefore 
in its turn to be rigorously criticised. And the statement 
that Christianity contradicts experience suggests two re- 
flections, in Hmine. 

In the first place the origin of all things is mysterious, 
the origin of matter, the origin of energy, the origin of 
life, the origin of thought. And present experience is no 
criterion of any of these things. What were their birth 
throes, what were their accompanying signs and wonders, 
when the morning stars sang together in the dawn of their 
appearing, we do not and cannot know. If therefore the 
Incarnation was, as Christians believe, another instance of a 
new beginning, present experience will neither enable us to 
assert r deny, what its attendant circumstances may or may 
not have been. The logical impossibility of proving a nega- 
tive is proverbial. And on a subject, whose conditions are 
unknown to us, the very attempt becomes ridiculous. And 
secondly, it is a mistake to suppose that as a matter of strict 
evidence, the Christian Church has ever rested its claims 
upon its miracles. A confirmatory factor indeed, in a compli- 
cation of converging arguments, they have been, and still are 
to many minds. But to others, who in the present day are 
probably the larger class, it is not so easy to believe Chris- 
tianity on account of miracles, as miracles on account of 
Christianity. For now, as ever, the real burden of the proof 
of Christianity is to be sought in our present experience. 

There is a fact of experience as old as history, as widely 
spread as is the human race, and more intensely, irresistibly, 
importunately real than all the gathered experience of art 
and policy and science, the fact which philosophers call 
moral evil, and Christians sin. It rests upon no questionable 
interpretation of an Eastern allegory. We breathe it, we 
feel it, we commit it, we see its havoc all around us. It is no 
dogma, but a sad, solemn, inevitable fact. The animal 
creation has a law of its being, a condition of its perfection, 
which it instinctively and invariably pursues. Man has a 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 209 

law of his being, a condition of his perfection, which he 
instinctively tends to disobey. And what he does to-day, 
he has been doing from the first record of his existence. 

Video meliora proboque, 
Deteriora sequor. 

Philosophers have from time to time attempted to explain 
this dark experience away, and here and there men of happy 
temperament, living among calm surroundings, have been 
comparatively unconscious of the evil in the world. But the 
common conscience is alike unaffected by the ingenuity of 
the one class, or the apathy of the other ; while it thrills to 
the voices of men like S. Paul or S. Augustine, Dante or John 
Bunyan, Loyola or Luther; recognising in their sighs and 
tears and lamentations, the echo of its own unutterable 
sorrow made articulate. Nor is sin confined to one depart- 
ment of our being. It poisons the very springs of life, and 
taints its every action. It corrupts art ; it hampers science ; 
it paralyses the efforts of the politician and the patriot ; and 
diseased bodies, and broken hearts, and mental and spiritual 
agony, are amongst its daily, its hourly results. It would 
seem indeed superfluous to insist upon these things, if their 
importance were not so often ignored in the course of anti- 
Christian argument. But when we are met by an appeal to 
experience, it is necessary to insist that no element of ex- 
perience be left out. 

And moral evil, independently of any theory of its nature 
or its origin, is a plain palpable fact, and a fact of such stu- 
pendous magnitude as to constitute by far the most serious 
problem of our life. 

Now it is also a fact of present experience that there are 
scattered throughout Christendom, men of every age, tem- 
perament, character, and antecedents, for whom this problem 
is practically solved: men who have a personal conviction 
that their own past sins are done away with, and the whole 
grasp of evil upon them loosened, and who in consequence 
rise to heights of character and conduct, which they know 
that they would never have otherwise attained. And all this 
they agree to attribute, in however varying phrases, to the 


2io The Religion of the Incarnation. 

personal influence upon them of Jesus Christ. Further, these 
men had a spiritual ancestry. Others in the last generation 
believed and felt, and acted as they now act and feel and 
believe. And so their lineage can be traced backward, age 
by age, swelling into a great multitude whom no man can 
number, till we come to the historic records of Him whom 
they all look back to, and find that He claimed the power on 
earth to forgive sins. And there the phenomenon ceases. 
Pre-Christian antiquity contains nothing analogous to it. 
Consciousness of sin, and prayers for pardon, and purgatorial 
penances, and sacrifices, and incantations, and magic formulae 
are there in abundance ; and hopes, among certain races, of 
the coming of a great deliverer. But never the same sense of 
sin forgiven, nor the consequent rebound of the enfranchised 
soul. Yet neither a code of morality which was not essen- 
tially new, nor the example of a life receding with every age 
into a dimmer past, would have been adequate to produce this 
result. It has all the appearance of being, what it historically 
has claimed to be, the entrance of an essentially new life into 
the world, quickening its palsied energies, as with an electric 
touch. And the more we realize in the bitterness of our own 
experience, or that of others, the essential malignity of moral 
evil, the more strictly supernatural does this energy appear. 
When, therefore, we are told that miracles contradict expe- 
rience, we point to the daily occurrence of this spiritual 
miracle and ask ' whether is it easier to say thy sins be forgiven 
thee, or to say arise and walk ? ' We meet experience with 
experience, the negative experience that miracles have not 
happened with the positive experience that they are hap- 
pening now : an old argument, which so far from weakening, 
modern science has immensely strengthened, by its insistence 
on the intimate union between material and spiritual things. 
For spirit and matter, as we call them, are now known to in- 
termingle, and blend, and fringe off, and fade into each other, 
in a way that daily justifies us more in our belief that 
the possessor of the key to one must be the possessor of the 
key to both, and that He who can save the soul can raise the 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 2 1 1 

Here then is our answer to the negative criticism, or rather 
to the negative hypothesis, by which many critics are misled. 
Of course we do not expect for it unanimous assent. It is 
founded on a specific experience ; and strangers to that ex- 
perience are naturally unable to appreciate its force. But 
neither should they claim to judge it. For the critic of an 
experience must be its expert. And the accumulated verdict 
of the spiritual experts of all ages, should at least meet with 
grave respect from the very men who are most familiar with 
the importance of the maxim, ' Cuique in suaarte credendum.' 
Christianity distinctly declines to be proved first, and 
practised afterwards. Its practice and its proof go hand in 
hand. And its real evidence is its power. 

We now see why the Atonement has often assumed such 
exclusive prominence in the minds of Christian men. They 
have felt that it was the secret of their own regenerate life, 


their best intellectual apology, their most attractive mission- 
ary appeal ; and so have come to think that the other aspects 
of the Incarnation might be banished from the pulpit and the 
market-place, to the seclusion of the schools. But this has 
proved to be a fatal mistake. Truth cannot be mutilated with 
impunity. And this gradual substitution of a detached doc- 
trine for a catholic creed, has led directly to the charge which 
is now so common, that Christianity is inadequate to life ; 
with no message to ordinary men, in their ordinary moments, 
no bearing upon the aims, occupations, interests, enthusiasms, 
amusements, which are human nature's daily food. 

But we have already seen what a misconception this im- 
plies of the Incarnation. The Incarnation opened heaven, for 
it was the revelation of the Word ; but it also reconsecrated 
earth, for the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. 
And it is impossible to read history without feeling how pro- 
foundly the religion of the Incarnation has been a religion 
of humanity. The human body itself, which heathendom 
had so degraded, that noble minds could only view it as the 
enemy and prison of the soul, acquired a new meaning, ex- 
hibited new graces, shone with a new lustre in the light of 
the Word made Flesh; and thence, in widening circles, the 

P a 

212 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

family, society, the state, felt in their turn the impulse of the 
Christian spirit, with its 

touches of things common, 
Till they rose to touch the spheres. 

Literature revived ; art flamed into fuller life ; even science 
in its early days owed more than men often think, to the 
Christian temper and the Christian reverence for things once 
called common or unclean. While the optimism, the belief in 
the future, the atmosphere of hopefulness, which has made 
our progress and achievements possible, and which, when all 
counter currents have been allowed for, so deeply differentiates 
the modern from the ancient world, dates, as a fact of history, 
from those buoyant days of the early church, when the creed 
of suicide was vanquished before the creed of martyrdom, 
Seneca before S. Paul. It is true that secular civilization has 
co-operated with Christianity to produce the modern world. 
But secular civilization is, as we have seen, in the Christian 
view, nothing less than the providential correlative and 
counterpart of the Incarnation. For the Word did not desert 
the rest of His creation to become Incarnate. Natural religion, 
and natural morality, and the natural play of intellect have 
their function in the Christian as they had in the pre-Christian 
ages ; and are still kindled by the light that lighteth every 
man coming into the world. And hence it is that secular 
thought has so often corrected and counteracted the evil of a 
Christianity grown professional, and false, and foul. 

Still, when all allowance for other influence has been made ; 
and all the ill done in its name admitted to the full ; Chris- 
tianity remains, the only power which has regenerated 
personal life, and that beyond the circle even of its professed 
adherents, the light of it far outshining the lamp which has 
held its flame. And personal life is after all the battle-ground, 
on which the progress of the race must be decided. Nor ever 
indeed should this be more apparent than in the present day. 
For materialism, that old enemy alike of the Christian and the 
human cause, has passed from the study to the street. No one 
indeed may regret this more than the high-souled scientific 

v. The Incarnation and Development. 213 

thinker, whose life belies the inevitable consequences of his 
creed. But the ruthless logic of human passion is drawing 
those consequences fiercely ; and the luxury of the rich, and 
the communistic cry of the poor, and the desecration of 
marriage, and the disintegration of society, and selfishness in 
policy, and earthliness in art, are plausibly pleading science in 
their favour. And with all this Christianity claims, as of old, 
to cope, because it is the religion of the Incarnation. For the 
real strength of materialism lies in the justice which it does to 
the material side of nature the loveliness of earth and sea 
and sky and sun and star ; the wonder of the mechanism which 
controls alike the rushing comet and the falling leaf ; the human 
body crowning both, at once earth's fairest flower and most 
marvellous machine. And Christianity is the only religion 
which does equal justice to this truth, while precluding its 
illegitimate perversion. It includes the truth, by the essential 
importance which it assigns to the human body, and therefore 
to the whole material order, with which that body is so 
intimately one ; while it excludes its perversion, by shewing 
the cause of that importance to lie in its connection, communion, 
union with the spirit, and consequent capacity for endless 
degrees of glory. 

And though its own first vocation is to seek and save souls 
one by one, it consecrates in passing every field of thought and 
action, wherein the quickened energies of souls may find their 
scope. It welcomes the discoveries of science, as ultimately 
due to Divine revelation, and part of the providential educa- 
tion of the world. It recalls to art the days when, in catacomb 
and cloister, she learned her noblest mission to be the service 
of the Word made Flesh. It appeals to democracy as the 
religion of the fishermen who gathered round the carpenter's 
Son. It points the social reformer to the pattern of a perfect 
man, laying down His life alike for enemy and friend. While 
it crowns all earthly aims with a hope full of immortality, as 
prophetic of eternal occupations otherwhere. And however 
many a new meaning may yet be found in the Incarnation, 
however many a misconception of it fade before fuller light ; 
we can conceive no phase of progress which has not the 

214 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Incarnation for its guiding star ; no age which cannot make 
the prayer of the fifth century its own 

'O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look 
favourably on Thy whole Church, that wonderful and sacred 
mystery; and by the tranquil operation of Thy perpetual 
Providence, carry out the work of man's salvation ; and let 
the whole world feel and see that things which were cast down 
are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being 
made new, and all things are returning to perfection through 
Him, from whom they took their origin, even through our 
Lord Jesus Christ V 

1 Gelasian, quoted by Bright, Ancient Collects, p. 98. 






I. MANY years ago, in undergraduate days, I was speaking 
once to a friend of my hope of beginning some little acquaint- 
ance with Theology. I well remember the air of nicely 
mingled civility and conternptuousness, with which my friend, 
wishing to sympathize, at once drew a distinction for me 
between speculative and dogmatic Theology, and assumed that 
I could not mean that the mere study of dogmatic Theology 
could have any sort of attractiveness. I do not think that I 
accepted his kindly overture ; but it certainly made me 
consider more than once afterwards, whether the ' mere study 
of dogmatic Theology' could after all be so slavish and pro- 
fitless an employment as had been implied. On the whole, 
however, I settled with myself that his condemnation, however 
obviously candid and even impressive, must nevertheless re- 
main, so far as I was concerned, a surprise and an enigma. 
For what, after all, did the study of dogmatic Theology mean, 
but the study of those truths which the mind of Christ's 
Church upon earth has believed to be at once the most certain 
and the most important truths of man's history, nature and 
destiny, in this world and for ever ? 

It is impossible, however, not to feel that my friend, in his 
objection, represented what was, and is, a very widespread 
instinct against the study of dogma. Some think, for instance, 
that to practical men exactnesses of doctrinal statement, even 
if true, are immaterial. Others think that any exactness of 
doctrinal statement is convicted, by its mere exactness, of 
untruth ; for that knowledge about things unseen can only 

2 1 8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

be indefinite in character. If, indeed, religious knowledge is 
a process of evolution simply, if it means only a gradual 
development towards ever-increasing definiteness of religious 
supposition, then no doubt its exactness may be the condem- 
nation of dogma. But then, no doubt, to make room for 
such a view, the whole fact of historical Christianity must 
be first displaced. 

Is it put as an impossibility, that there cannot be any 
definite or certain Theology 1 Can there, then, be a Revelation ? 
Can there be an Incarnation ? Those only are consistent, who 
assert that all three are impossible, and who understand that 
in so doing they are limiting the possibilities, and therefore 
pro tanto questioning the reality of a Personal God. But if 
there be a Personal God, what are the adequate grounds on 
which it is nevertheless laid down that He cannot directly 
reveal Himself? Or, if He can reveal Himself, on what 
ground can the d priori assertion rest, that theological truth 
must be uncertain or indefinite ? The Christian Church claims 
to have both definite and certain knowledge. These claims 
can never be met by any a priori judgment that such know- 
ledge is impossible. Such a judgment is too slenderly based 
to bear the weight of argument. To argue from it would 
be to commit the very fault so often imputed to the dogmatist. 
It would be a flagrant instance of dogmatic assertion (and that 
for the most important of argumentative purposes) of what 
we could not possibly know. 

The claim of the Church to knowledge through the Incar- 
nation can only be rationally met, and only really answered, 
when the claim itself, and its evidence, are seriously examined. 
Herein lies, and will always lie, the heart of the struggle for 
or against the dogmatic character of the Church. Anything 
else is only the fringe of the matter. Any rebutting of a 
priori presumptions against dogma is a mere clearing of the 
way for battle. Thus it is said, perhaps, that the objection is 
to the degree of definiteness, or to the tone of authority. It 
is fancied that dogma in its very nature, quite apart from its 
contents, is a curtailment of the rights, and a limitation of the 
powers, of mind. Is dogma, the most definite and authori- 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 2 1 9 

tative, fettering to the freedom of intellect ? We can see in a 
moment the entire unreality of the objection, by simply 
substituting for it another question. Is truth fettering to 
intellect ? Does the utmost certitude of truth limit freedom of 
mind 1 ? Because, if not, dogma, so far as it coincides with 
truth, cannot fetter either. If perfect knowledge of truth 
could paralyse the intellect, what (it is worth while to ask) 
do we mean by intellect ? Do we mean something which 
must for ever be struggling with difficulties which it cannot 
overcome ? Is it necessary for the idea of mind that it should 
be baffled "? Is it a creature only of the tangle and the fog ? 
And if ever the day should come, when after struggling, more 
or less ineffectually, with the tangle and the fog, man should 
emerge at last in clear sunshine upon the mountain top, will 
mind cease to have any faculty or place, because the know- 
ledge of truth has come ? At least, if we understand this to 
be the conception of mind, it need not frighten us quite so 
much as it did, to be told that dogma interferes with mind. 
But if, however different from our experience the employment 
of mind would be in the presence of perfect knowledge, we 
cannot so conceive of mind as to admit that truth could 
possibly be its enemy or its destruction, then we may cer- 
tainly insist that no amount of dogma, so far as it is true, 
can limit or fetter the freedom of intellect. But then we are 
at once thrown back upon the question ; is the dogmatic 
teaching of the Church true ? No statement which absolutely 
coincides with truth can hurt the freedom of mind. But 
mistaken presumption of truth can, and does, limit it ; and 
so does authority, if it prevents the examination of truth. 
Dogma, then, is, as dogma, a wrong to mind, just so far as it 
can be convicted of either of these things ; so far as it forbids 
examination, or so far as it asserts what is not strictly true. 

As to the first of these two suggestions against dogma, it is 
quite enough simply to deny it. The Church, as a teacher of 
dogmatic truth, does not forbid the freest and completest 
inquiry into the truths which she enunciates. The question 
is not whether dogmatic theologians have ever dreaded in- 
quiry into truth ; but whether the dogmatic Church, as such, 

22O The Religion of the Incarnation. 

precludes or forbids it. True, she enunciates some truths as 
true ; and holds those, in different measures, unwise and 
wrong, who contradict her truths. But she does not. therefore, 
forbid the fullest exercise of intellect upon them ; nor tremble 
lest intellect, rightly wielded, should contradict them. Indeed 
for eighteen centuries she has been engaged, and will be 
engaged to the end, in examining with a power and discipline 
of intellect, which she alone ever has, or could have, evoked, 
into the meaning and exactness of her own knowledge. But 

o o 

she does warn inquirers that successful inquiry into her truths 
is no work of merely ingenious disputation, but needs the 
exactest discipline and balance of all the faculties of our 
human nature. 

We return, then, to the second suggestion ; and I repeat 
that the question has for us become, not whether dogma in 
the abstract is desirable or undesirable, but whether the 
dogmas of the Christian Church are true or not true. Dogma 
that is true can only be undesirable in so far as truth is un- 

Whether the dogmas of the Church are true or not true, is 
itself a question of evidence. 

Before, however, making any remark upon the nature of 
this evidence in the case of religion, we may remember that 
the possession of dogma is in no way peculiar to religion. 
There is no region of research or knowledge which does not 
present to the student its own ' dogmata,' or truths ascertained 
and agreed upon ; nor does any one, in the name of freedom of 
intellect, persist in treating these always as open questions. 

But perhaps if we venture thus to claim the ascertained 
truths of any science as dogmas, the scientific answer will be 
ready. They differ, it will be felt, from the nature of religious 
dogmas, in two important respects. The first difference is, 
that they are offered for acceptance with their full proofs, from 
the first moment that they are offered at all. The student 
could not, it may be, have discovered for himself the law of 
gravitation, or the circulation of the blood; but he can, when 
these discoveries are once set before him by another, see forth- 
with not only the coherency of the principles, but the cogency 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 221 

of their proof. The second difference is, that when they have 
been accepted by the student, proof and all, they still claim 
no allegiance beyond what his intelligence cannot but freely 
give ; he is still free to supersede or upset them, if he can. 
He accepts them indeed provisionally, as identical with the 
truth so far as the truth on the subject is yet known ; yet not 
necessarily as final truth. He accepts them as truths which 
all his further study will comment upon ; presumably indeed 
in the way of continual illustration and corroboration, so 
that what he accepts for study will be more and more cer- 
tainly proved by the study but also, if you please, in the 
way of correction ; for if his study can supersede, or even 
in any measure correct or alter them, why, so much the 
better both for science and for him ! Why should not this be 
equally true of Theology 1 ? Why should religious dogmas be 
received without these conditions, as certainly and finally 
true 1 

To begin with, then, some exception may be taken to the 
statement that the student who accepts a scientific doctrine, 
has the full evidence before him from the beginning. That it 
is not altogether so is evident from the simple consideration, 
just mentioned, that his work is a progressive one ; and that 
the whole course of his experience tends, and will tend, to 
deepen the certainty of his first principles. But in so far as 
the proof of any leading principle is being deepened and 
strengthened by the student's daily work, so far it is clear 
that the amount of certainty about his principles with which 
at first he began, must be less than that with which he ends 

o * 

at last ; and therefore that the proof presented to him at the 
beginning, however much it may have been adequate to the 
purpose, (even though it may have been the completest proof 
capable of being presented in the way of exposition from the 
lip to the ear) was nevertheless most incomplete in comparison 
with the fulness of attainable proof. And further, it may 
certainly be said also, that in the convincingness of this 
evidence as at first presented, authority, whether more or 
less, had an undoubted part. At the very least it had a 
negative place, as a guarantee to the young mind rejoicing 

222 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

in the ingenuity of the apparent demonstration, that the 
apparent demonstration was not vitiated by some unseen 
fallacy, or that there was not a series of other consider- 
ations behind, which would rob the lesson just learnt 
of its practical usefulness. Often, indeed, the degree of 
authority in the first scientific convictions would be very 
much higher. Often, however helpful the arguments or 
illustrations of a principle may seem, the really overruling 
consideration will at first be this, that the whole scientific 
world has absolutely accepted the principle as truth. So much 
is this the case, that if an average student should find himself 
unable in any point to receive the ascertained truths of his 
science with intelligent agreement, he would not hesitate to 
assume that the whole fault lay with himself; he would really 
be convinced in his soul that the dicta of his scientific teachers 
were right, and that he himself would see the certainty of 
them by and by. 

Now in both these two respects the acceptance of religious 
dogma is not essentially in contrast, but rather is parallel, with 
that of scientific principles. For religious truth is neither in 
its first acceptance a mere matter of blind submission to 
authority, nor is it stagnant and unprogressive after it is 
accepted. However different in other ways the leading truths 
of the Creed may be from scientific principles ; in this respect 
at least they are not different, that not one of them is ever 
brought for the acceptance of men without some really in- 
telligent evidence and ground for acceptance. If any man is 
asked to accept them, without any intelligent ground for the 
acceptance, we may be bold perhaps to assert that it would be 
his duty to refuse. Of course, however, authority will itself 
be a large part of his intelligent ground ; a larger part or a 
smaller according to circumstances. But then there is no 
proper antithesis between believing in deference to authority, 
and believing in deference to reason, unless it is understood 
that the authority believed in was accepted at first as authority 
'without reason, or maintained in spite of the subsequent re- 
fusal of reason to give confirmatory witness to its assertions. 
Even in the cases in which there seems to be least use of 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 223 

reason, the case of a young child learning at his mother's knee, 
or of a man whose spirit has suffered and been broken, and 
who gives himself up at last to the mere guidance of a friend 
or a teacher, the authority, when accepted at all, is accepted 
on grounds essentially reasonable. The child's reasoning may 
differ in quality from the prodigal's ; but the child trusts 
father or mother on grounds which are wholly, if uncon- 
sciously, a product of the strictest reason ; and the prodigal 
has felt in his inmost soul alike the deadness of his own 
spiritual being, and the power and the beauty which are in 
the life of the teacher upon whom he throws himself. And 
this is not the only point ; for the reasonable mind in one is 
not a thing different in nature from the reasonable mind in 
another, or from the eternal reason which is in God. The 
truths, therefore, which we are taught about God, and man, 
and Christ, about sin, and redemption from sin, and the heaven 
of holiness, and which seem to be accepted as a mere act of 
not unreasonable dutifulness, do reasonably withal commend 
themselves, in some shape or measure, even to the callow 
mind from its earliest immaturity. There is that in the very 
consciousness of child, or of criminal, with which they are in 
essential harmony. That in him with which they are in 
essential correspondence bears witness of them. Nor is any- 
one, in his acceptance of them, wholly insensible of this 
witness to their truth, which is, in fact, engraven upon his 
own conscious being. 

To ' take religion on trust,' then, as it is sometimes de- 
risively called, is not really to act in defiance of, or apart from, 
reason. It is an exercise of reason up to a certain point, 
just so, and so far as, the experience of the person warrants. 
He sees what to trust, and why. He sees where understanding 
and experience which transcend his own would point. And 
he seeks for the rational test of further experience in the only 
way in which it can be had. He defers to the voice of ex- 
perience, in faith that his own experience will by and by 
prove its truthfulness. On a medical question, men would 
not dispute, they would loudly proclaim, the reasonableness 
and wisdom of such a course. Yet there are those who sup- 

224 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

pose that the truths of religion are to admit of a complete 
preliminary intellectual verification, a verification apart from 
special training and experience, such as they might more 
reasonably expect in any other subject-matter than religion, 
but such as, in fact, they hardly expect elsewhere. 

The doctrines of the Church, then, accepted at first on 
reasonable evidence, which in a greater or less degree, but per- 
haps never wholly, consists in authority reasonably accepted as 
authority, are then in all the experience of spiritual life re- 
ceiving continual comment, explanation, corroboration. The 
whole experience of Christian life must be a growth in the 
apprehension and certainty of Christian truth. A Christian 
neophyte may believe every word of his Creed, and believe 
neither ignorantly nor unintelligently. But the veteran 
Christian of four-score will transcend the child at least as 
much in the degree of certainty, with which the doctrines of 
the Church are to his entire faculties mental, moral, and 
spiritual, proved and known to be true, as he can possibly do 
in his merely intellectual apprehension of the history or 
meaning of the words. We may say, indeed, that the life of a 
professing Christian which is not a life of growth in the ap- 
prehension of doctrinal truth, must necessarily be a retro- 
gression; just as the life of so-called scientific study, which is 
not continually illuminating afresh, and deepening the cer- 
tainty of its own scientific principles, must gradually come to 
hold even its own scientific principles less and less certainly, 
and to mean by them less and less. 

But even if it may be shewn that there is not quite so 
essential a contrast as there seemed to be, between the charac- 
ter of theological and scientific dogmas, by reason of the proofs 
which are offered, along with his principles, to the student of 
any science ; yet still it will be felt that they differ essentially 
in the tone and manner with which they respectively speak to 
intellect. The truths of the one claim at once to possess an 
intellectual finality, and to command a moral allegiance, which 
the truths of the other do not. 

It may be worth while to say in reply, first of all, that there 
cannot be a real contrast of finality between them, so far as 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 225 

they are both really true. What is really true is really true. 
Neither ' absolutely,' ' finally,' nor any other adverb in the 
language will make the statement a stronger one. What we 
call scientific truths are not in fact liable to correction, except 
in so far as they may perhaps, after all, not be quite scientific 
truths, except (that is) in respect of such admixture of 
erroneous supposition, as still has clung to them after general 
acceptance. And on the other hand, so far as any mistaken 
assumptions are mixed up with our apprehension of religious 
truths, so far these too are liable to receive, and in the history 
of Church doctrine are continually receiving, correction. It 
is, after all, a truism. In either sphere the truths, so far as 
they really are truths, are true absolutely : but are corrigible 
in so far as our statement of them still contains anything that 
is other than truth. We may put it, perhaps, in another way 
still. If, to assume an impossible hypothesis, any one could 
really prove, not merely that there were some exaggerations 
or misconceptions in the traditional mode of statement of some 
doctrinal truths, but that our really essential Faith was wrong, 
we may grant hypothetically (seeing that truth is supreme) 
that he would do us all a mighty service, at however tre- 
mendous a cost. Similarly of course it must be owned, that 
if any one could prove the earth to be flat and stationary, and 
the law of gravitation to be the precise contradictory of truth, 
he would do immense service to science. But none the less, 
the scientific certainty on these points is so complete, that if 
anyone seriously assailed them, it would be felt that he 
could only be dealing with the evidence in a way which 
tended to compromise the credit of his own reason ; and he 
would therefore be reasonably held to be, as it is roughly 
phrased, a fool or a madman. And we must claim that for us 
the certainty of some theological propositions is so complete, 
that when anyone assails them, we are no less reasonable in 
regarding him with concern, rather for his own truth's sake 
than for the truth of our religion ; and that, if miracles or ' an 
angel from heaven ' should seem to bear witness for him, it 
would still be no bigotry, but in the strictest sense our 
reasonable course, to refuse the witness, and to treat it as 


226 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

merely an attempt to ensnare us into falsehood to the real 
requirements of our reason and conscience. 

Is the conclusion, then, that there is after all no difference 
at all between the truths of Theology and of Science, in respect 
of their claim to authority 1 On the contrary, there remains 
a perfectly real contrast of authority between them ; only it 
is to be looked for elsewhere than among the conditions upon 
which our belief in them respectively is based. 

There are two distinct senses in which the doctrines of the 
Creed may be said to be authoritative. It may be meant that 
the authoritativeness is in the manner in which they are pre- 
sented to us ; that is to say, that (whatever their content may 
be) they are statements which we believe, and are to believe, 
on the sole ground that we are told to do so, without any 
appeal to reason of our own ; or it may be meant that they are 
statements whose content is of such nature and inherent im- 
portance, that we cannot, in fact, believe them, without thereby 
necessarily being involved in a train of consequential obliga- 
tions of thought and life. In this latter case the authori- 
tativeness lies not in the manner of their presentation to us 
or our acceptance of them, but in that which is involved in 
the nature of the truths themselves, if and when they are be- 

Is it true to say of the Creeds that they are ' authoritative ' 
in the former sense? that is to say that they challenge our 
allegiance, and we are bound to believe them, because we are 
told that they are true, without examination on our part, and 
without reason? It has indeed been stated already that, as 
between pupils and teachers, there is in religious learning, as 
there is in all human learning whatever, scientific or otherwise, 
a certain legitimate and important field for authority reason- 
ably accepted as authority, that is, the authority of men more 
learned and experienced than ourselves. Even this, of course, 
means that the pupil believes the things taught to be strictly 
rational to the teacher, though they be not so, as yet, to him- 
self. But is it true, in speaking of religion, to carry this one 
step further ; and to say that in this sphere our whole belief, 
and duty of belief, rests upon authority as its ultimate found- 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 227 

ation, the authority not of man's experience, but of God's 
command ? It must, no doubt, be freely owned on all sides, 
that if there be a creed commanded of God, we certainly are 
bound to believe it. But is there ? or when, or how, was it 
commanded ? Does anyone answer, through our Lord Jesus 
Christ ? or through His Church ? or through the Bible ? But 
who is He ? or what is the Bible ? or how do we know ? To 
accept doctrines, which we otherwise should not accept, be- 
cause we are told to do so, without knowing first who told us, 
or why we should believe him, is simply not a reasonable 
possibility. But to ask these questions and to have answers 
to them, and believe because we are satisfied in some way as 
to the answers to them, is certainly not to rest the act of be- 
lieving on a foundation of mere authority : essentially rather 
it is, to go over part of the ground of the Creed first, and be 
satisfied as to the correctness of its main substance, and there- 
fore to believe it. A Christian will not deny that the doctrines 
of the Creed are entitled in fact to be held as authoritative, in 
both of the senses distinguished above. But we cannot be- 
lieve them on God's authority till we have first believed in 
the authority of God. And, therefore, their authoritativeness 
in what we have called the first sense is not really the ultimate 
ground of our accepting them : for it is not itself accepted and 
apprehended by us, except as a consequence of our first be- 
lieving that which is the main substance of the Creed. It may 
be the warrant to us of this or that detail considered apart : 
but it is not, and cannot ever be, the original and sufficient 
cause of our believing the whole. Credo ut intelligam may 
be the most true and most reasonable motto of the large part 
of Christian faith and life : but it is not inconsistent with it 
is founded upon an ultimate underlying intellexi ut crederem. 
There is, then, a real and abiding difference between theo- 
logical and scientific dogmas, in respect of the authority 
with which they speak to us. But the difference is one 
which does not affect at all the method or grounds of our 
original belief in them respectively: it is to be found ex- 
clusively in the different subject-matter of the two when 


228 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

And herein, also, it is that we find the real answer to the 
other form of question, viz., why should Theology claim to 
be so much more final than science ? Much as science has 
conquered of the realm of truth, it does not profess to have 
conquered more than a little. Of the vast residuum it 
says nothing. It has no idea how small a proportion 
its present knowledge may bear to that which will one day 
be known. Nay, the further it advances in knowledge of 
truth, so much the smaller a proportion does its realized 
truth seem to it to bear to that which remains unexplored. 
Why should the theologian be less patient of additions to 
theological knowledge, such as may some day throw all his 
present creeds into comparative obscurity 1 Why should the 
Christian Creed be fixed and inexpansive "? The question is 
formidable only in an abstract form. The reasonable answer 
to it confronts us the moment we consider what is the subject- 
matter of the Creed. Scientific principles are in their very 
nature fragments of a truth which is practically infinite. But 
the Christian Creed, if true at all, cannot possibly be a fragment 
of truth. For the Christian Creed does not simply enunciate 
so many abstract principles of natural or supernatural life 
or governance. It introduces us straight to a supreme Person, 
Himself the beginning and end, the author and upholder of 
all. Such a doctrine may be false ; but it cannot be a frag- 
ment. The child who believes in God, believes in every- 
thing, though he knows hardly anything. He has infinitely 
more yet to learn, as to what his own belief means. But he 
has nothing to add to it. The perfect knowledge of the 
universe would not add to it, but would only explain it. 
It is, then, by virtue of his personal relation to a Personality 
which is Itself supreme and all inclusive, that he is guilty of 
no presumption, even though in the face of the modest dis- 
avowals of scientific men, he must maintain that his own 
creed is, in its proper nature, even when all admissions have 
been made, rather a complete and conclusive, than a partial or 
a tentative, statement of truth. But this difference between 
him and them is the result neither of any arrogance in his 
temper, nor any lack in his logic, but it follows necessarily 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 229 

from the nature of the subject-matter of his creed, if and 
when it is believed. 

But still this fact that, if true, they are truths which by 
the obvious necessity of their subject-matter speak to our 
intellects and consciences with a tone of such Divinely com- 
manding authority, ought not to make me or anyone accept 
them as true, unless the evidence for them is adequate. The 
question is not how authoritative they would be, if true ; 
nor how important or inclusive they would be, if true ; nor 
is any amount of contingent importance or authority adequate 
evidence for their truth, but only a motive for inquiring into 
its evidence. The question is, are they true 1 or are they not 
true ? and the question is a question of evidence. 

II. And now, in recurring once more to the subject of the 
evidence by which the dogmas of religion are proved, from 
which we diverged just now, we find, in respect of it, a 
second reality of contrast between theological truths and the 
truths of material science. For whilst in both cases equally 
we depend upon evidence, and evidence that is adequate ; it 
does not follow that the evidence for both is in all points 
similar in kind. In great part indeed it is so ; but it is 
certainly not so altogether. For when we speak of the 
evidence of religious truths, it is to be remembered that the 
full evidence by which our consciences are wholly convinced 
of them, is not of one kind only, but of all kinds. The facts 
of religion address themselves to the whole nature of man ; 
and it is only by the whole nature of man that they can 
ever be fully apprehended. Man is not a being of intel- 
lectual conceptions or faculties only. And because he is not 
so, therefore no set of principles which could be apprehended 
by the intellect alone (as the theorems of Euclid may appear 
to be), and which make for their acceptance no demand at 
all upon the qualities of his moral or spiritual being, could 
really present, as religion professes to present, a system of 
truth and life which would be adequate to the scope of his 
whole nature. It is undoubtedly the case that just as the 
truths of religion account for, and appeal to, his whole being, 
so the evidence for them appeals to his whole being also^ 

230 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

For its complete appreciation there are requirements other 
than intellectual. There must be not only certain endow- 
ments of mind, but the life of a moral being. There must 
be moral affections, moral perceptions, spiritual affinities and 
satisfactions. Even if the primary conviction of his reason 
may be apart from these, yet of the fully developed evidence, 
which is the real possession of the Christian believer, these 
are a most important and necessary part. Without these, 
his certainty, adequate though it might be, would be far less 
profound than it is. These are to him essential ingredients 
in the richness and the fulness of the evidence which to him 
is everywhere. Now for this necessary width of the full 
confirmatory evidence of religion, it is impossible for the 
religious man, with the utmost desire to make every allow- 
ance and apology that is possible, to offer any apology at all. 
So far from being a mark of inconsistency or feebleness, it is 
a necessary note of the completeness of religion. Religion 
professes to have for its subject-matter, and in a measure 
incomplete, but relatively adequate, to include, to account 
for, and to direct, the whole range of all man's history, all 
man's capacities, explored or unexplored, all man's destiny 
now and for ever. If its truths and their evidence were 
found to address themselves exclusively to the intellect, in 
isolation from the other qualities and experiences of man's 
nature, it would be self-convicted of inadequacy. If men 
full of worldliness of heart and self-indulgence could be 
capable of understanding the revelation of religious truth 
as accurately, of embracing it as completely, of apprehending 
the depth and the width of the evidence for it (with which 
all human nature really is saturated) as thoroughly as the 
prayerful and the penitent, this would not mean that religion 
or religious evidence had been lifted up, on to a higher and 
more properly scientific level, but rather that it had shrunk 
down into correspondence merely with a part, and not the 
noblest part, of man's present nature. 

It would be far beyond the scope of this paper to discuss 
kinds of evidence, or argue in defence of the position that 
there is real evidence for religious truth, which is none the 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 231 

less properly evidence, because it is different in kind from 
the evidence for the propositions of material science : but it 
may be permissible, at least, in passing to record the claim, 
and to insist that religious men, in confining themselves to 
strictly historical or logical arguments, are necessarily omit- 
ting much which is nevertheless, to them, real ground. There 
are evidences which can speak to the heart, the imagination, 
the conscience, as well as the intelligence. Or, perhaps, we 
shall come nearer to an exact expression of the truth, by 
saying that the intelligence, which can apprehend and pro- 
nounce upon the evidence of truths of spiritual conscious- 
ness, is an intelligence identical in name, but not identical 
in nature, with that which can well weigh and judge purely 
logical or even that which can pronounce upon moral 
problems. The intelligence of a moral character, or of a 
spiritual personality, differs not in range only, but in quality, 
from that of a merely ' rational animal.' If the moral and 
the spiritual intelligence did not contain quite other elements, 
drawn from quite other experiences and possibilities, they 
could not work upon their higher subject-matter at all. To 
the religious man, therefore, it must seem strictly unreason- 
able, in the examination of truths which professedly corre- 
spond to man's whole nature, and need his whole nature 
and experience for the interpretation of them, to begin by 
shutting out, as irrelevant, what we will modestly call the 
half of man's nature ; and to demand that the truths shall 
be so stated and so proved, as that the statements and proofs 
shall correspond exclusively with the other half, and find in 
that other half their whole interpretation, and their whole 

It may, indeed, be desirable to guard against a miscon- 
ception, by the express admission that there is some neces- 
sary ambiguity in the terms employed. We may seem to 
have unduly extended both the verbal meaning, and the 
sphere of importance, of ' evidence ' and ' proof.' Undoubtedly 
there is a sense in which it would be, not merely true to 
admit, but important to insist, that in the acceptance of 
religious truth, Faith neither is, nor ever can be, displaced, 

232 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

in order that Demonstration may be enthroned in her place. 
But then Demonstration is a word which belongs to strictly 
logical nomenclature. And the very point here insisted on 
is that the strictly logical presentment of religion is, in refer- 
ence to the real presentment of religion, most inadequate. 
Undoubtedly, if everything else is shorn away, and religion 
remains solely and only in the form of strict logic, without 
sentiment, without imagination, without experience of duty, 
or sin, or right, or aspiration, or anything else which belongs 
to the spiritual consciousness of human personalities, the logic 
of it is, and must be, imperfectly conclusive. 

Now words such as ' evidence,' ' proof,' ' intelligence,' are no 
doubt often used in connection with processes of the intellect 
taken apart the intellect of a being merely rational. In 
insisting, therefore, that the word evidence, when used in 
reference to religious subject-matter, must include data which, 
to the observer of physical phenomena, would seem vague 
and impalpable ; and that intelligence, as adequately trained 
to apprehend and give judgment upon religious evidence, is 
in some respects other, and more, than that intelligence which 
can deal with evidence into which no element of spiritual con- 
sciousness enters; we differ, perhaps, at the most, more in 
form than reality, from those who simply deprecate the appeal 
to ' evidence ' or ' proof ' in matters of faith. 

To the religious man, then, the fulness of Christian evidence 
is as many-sided as human life. There is historical evidence, 
itself of at least a dozen different kinds, literary evidence, 
metaphysical evidence, moral evidence, evidence of sorrow 
and joy, of goodness and of evil, of sin and of pardon, of 
despair and of hope, of life and of death ; evidence which 
defies enumerating ; into this the whole gradual life of the 
Christian grows ; and there is no part nor element of life 
which does not to him perpetually elucidate and confirm the 
knowledge which has been given him. Everything that is 
or has been, every consciousness, every possibility, even every 
doubt or wavering, becomes to the Christian a part of the 
certainty an element in the absorbing reality of his Creed. 

But this is rather the end than the beginning. Certainly it 

Vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 233 

is not thus that the Creed of the Church can present itself 
to those whose life is still independent of the Creed. 

Let us consider, then, how the truths of the Creed did first, 
in fact, introduce themselves to human consciousness. There 
are three several stages of its presentment in history, of which 
the central one is so overmastering in importance, that it 
alone gives their character to the other two. They are, first, 
the leading up, in the world's history and consciousness, to 
the life of Jesus Christ ; secondly, the life and death of Jesus 
Christ; thirdly, the results, in history and consciousness, of 
the life and death of Jesus Christ. We may say. perhaps, 
that of the first of these the main outcome was belief in God ; 
and such a God, that belief in Him carried with it the two 
corollaries of aspiration after righteousness, and conviction of 
sin. We may say that the third of these means the establish- 
ment of the Church upon earth, and the articulating of her 
consciousness according to the Creeds. But in any case all 
the three are plainly historical, matters of historical inquiry, 
of historical evidence ; and all plainly depend entirely upon 
the intermediate one, the history of a certain human life 
which purports to be which either is, or is not the hinge- 
point of all history whatever. 

All turns, then, upon a certain passage of history. Is the 
history, as believed by Christians, true or false? The Chris- 
tian record of that history is the New Testament. Indeed, of 
that history, the New Testament is the only record. Is, then, 
the history of the teaching and the work, the life and the 
death, of Jesus Christ, presented to us in the New Testament 
as a chapter of historical fact, is it historical fact, or is it 
not ? The Incarnation is either a fact, or a fiction. The In- 
carnation means also for Christians the Atonement. For our 
present purpose, the Incarnation may be taken as necessarily 
including the Atonement. But still of this complex fact the 
dilemma stands. If it is not true, it is false. There is no 
middle term. If it is not true, then, whether dogma in itself 
is, or is not, desirable, at least all the dogma of the Christian 
Church is false. 

234 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

The Incarnation and the Atonement together are not pre- 
sented in the New Testament as, by their own mere state- 
ment, guaranteeing themselves. On the contrary, there is one 
single, definite, historical fact, which is represented there as 
the central heart and core of the evidence upon which the 
conviction of their truth depends. This fact is the resur- 
rection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Though this is not 
the whole of the Christian Creed, yet this, according to 
S. Paul, is, to the whole of the Christian Creed, crucial. 
' If there be no resurrection from the dead, then is Christ 
not risen ; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preach- 
ing vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are 
found false witnesses of God ; because we have testified of 
God, that he raised up Christ ; whom He raised not up, if so 
be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is 
not Christ raised ; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is 
vain, ye are yet in your sins.' To be direct personal evidence 
of a certain fact, and that fact the resurrection ; this was, in 
the view of S. Peter and the Apostles, the first qualification, 
and the central meaning, of Apostleship : ' must one be or- 
dained to lie a witness with us of His resurrection ; ' ' this 
Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.' 1 
Upon the historical truth or falsehood, then, of the resurrec- 
tion, hangs the whole question of the nature and work of Jesus 
Christ, the whole doctrine of Incarnation and Atonement. 

But in saying this, it is necessary to guard our proper 
meaning. If we admit the fact of the Resurrection to be 
cardinal, what is the fact of the Resurrection which is in 
question 1 It is as far as possible from being simply a ques- 
tion whether ' a man ' could or could not, did or did not, re- 
appear, after death, in life. When we speak of the historical 
fact, we must mean at least the whole fact with all that it 
was and meant, complex as it was and many-sided ; not with 
its meaning or its proof isolated upon a single page of the 
book of history, but having far-reaching affinities, parts es- 
sentially of its interpretation and of its evidence, entwined in 
the depths of the whole constitution of our nature, and the 
whole drama of history from the first moment to the last. 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma- 235 

However much Christians may have at times to argue about 
the simple evidence for the ' yes or ' no ' of the Resurrection 
of Jesus, as if it were the alleged resurrection of any other 
man that was in question, neither the question itself, nor the 
evidence about it, can possibly be, in fact, of the same nature 
or upon the same level, as the evidence about another. No 
amount of conviction of the reappearance in life of any other 
man, would have any similar meaning, or carry any similar 
consequences. The inherent character of Him who rose, and 
the necessary connection between what He was, and had said 
and claimed for Himself, on the one hand, and on the other 
His rising out of death ; this is an essential part of that fact 
of the resurrection, which comes up for proof or disproof. 
The fact that Jesus Christ, being what He was, the climax 
and fulfilment of a thousand converging lines nay, of all 
the antecedent history of mankind rose from the dead, and 
by that fact of resurrection (solemnly fore-announced, yet none 
the less totally unlooked for) illuminated and explained for 
the first time all that before had seemed enigmatical or 
contradictory in what He was, and indeed in all humanity ; 
this is the real fact of the resurrection which confronts us. 
It is this vast fact which is either true or false. The resur- 
rection of the crucified Jesus cannot possibly be a bare or 
simple fact. When viewed as a material manifestation of the 
moment only, it is at least misunderstood ; it may be unin- 
telligible. It is, no doubt, an event in history ; and yet it 
confronts us, even there in its place and witness in history, 
not simply as a finite historical event, but as an eternal 
counsel and infinite act of God. 

Yet there are times when we must consent to leave much 
of all this, for the moment, on one side. Whatever else the 
event in history may carry with it, of course it must stand 
its ground as a mere historical event. The mere fact may 
be but a part of it ; yet all will be overthrown if the fact be 
not fact. And so, though the truths of the Christian religion, 
and the evidence for them, be at least as wide as was repre- 
sented above, yet they present themselves to our minds still, 
as they presented themselves at first to the minds of men, 

236 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

within the sphere and the rules of ordinary human history 
and historical evidence. Here are events written on the 
page of history. Examine them. Are they historically false 
or true ? If they be not false, what do they mean and in- 
volve ? This is the modest way in which they present them- 

No one will now dispute that Jesus died upon the Cross. 
If He did not, on the third day, rise again from that death to 
life ; cadit quaestio all Christian dogma, all Christian faith, 
is at an end. Something might still be true which might be 
of interest ; something, even, which for sheer want of a better, 
might be still the most interesting fact in the world's long 
history ; but something which, from the first line to the last, 
would be essentially different from the Catholic faith. But, 
on the other hand, if He did so rise again, then the fact of 
His resurrection necessarily raises further questions as to His 
nature and being, necessarily requires the understanding of 
further truths for its own intelligent explanation. Now the 
present paper is not an evidential treatise. It is no part of 
our task to attempt to prove the historical reality of the 
resurrection. What it does concern us to notice is the way in 
which the determination of all Christian truth hinges upon it. 
If it falls, all the rest will drift away, anchorless and unsub- 
stantial, into the region of a merely beautiful dreamland. As 
dreamland, indeed, it may still captivate and inspire ; but 
anchor of sure fact there will be none. It will only be a 
beautiful imagination, a false mirage reflected from, based 
upon, falsehood. No doubt imagination is sovereign in the 
lives of men. But then imagination means the vivifying of 
truth, not the spectral embodiment of a lie. 

On the other hand, if the fact of the resurrection stands, 
then it cannot stand alone. If Jesus Christ so lived and 
taught as even the most indefinite believers concede that He 
lived and taught, if He then died on the Cross, and rose again 
the third day from, the dead, you have indeed already the 
foundation dogma of the Creed ; and having that, you cannot 
possibly rest in it: that foundation fact will absolutely 
compel you to ask and to answer certain further necessary 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 237 

questions ; and whatever intelligible answer you may choose 
to give to them will be essentially a dogmatic definition. 
Who or what was this man who thus lived, thus spoke, thus 
died, and thus rose from the dead ? As a matter of fact, the 
whole Church of Christ in history (including the men who 
had been His own companions, trained and inspired by Him- 
self,) taught and believed, without shadow of hesitation, that 
He was very God. Very gradually, indeed, had they advanced 
to this ; step by step, through their growing intimacy with a 
character whose very excellences were only enigmatical and 
confounding, so long as the master-truth, which lay behind 
them, was ignored. And very tentative, on His side, was the 
method of His self-revelation ; through qualities, through in- 
herent powers, through explicit teachings, slowly felt, slowly 
recognised, as transcendent, as impossible, except in relation 
to a truth which, after long misconceptions and perplexities, 
is seen by them at last not only to be true, but to be the 
essential truth which He Himself requires of them. For, be 
the method as gradual and as tentative as you please, these 
witnesses, who are, in fact, the only witnesses the world ever 
has had, or can have, of His inner life and teaching, testify 
unhesitatingly not only that all true acceptance of Him was, 
in their judgment, acceptance of Him as God, but that His 
life and death were penetrated by the consciousness of His 
own Godhead ; and by the deliberate purpose (through what- 
ever unexpected patience of method) of convincing the whole 
world in the end of His Godhead, and receiving universal belief, 
and universal worship, as God. 

Now no one to-day disputes that He was truly man. Is it 
true that He was very God ? It is either true or false. As 
to the fact there are only the two alternatives. And between 
the two the gulf is impassable. If it is not false, it is true. 
If it is not absolutely true, it is absolutely false. According 
to the faith of the Catholic Church it is absolutely true. Ac- 
cording to the highest form of Arianism, not less than accord- 
ing to the barest Socinianism, it is (however you may try to 
gloss it over) absolutely false. 

Once more, it is quite beyond our province to marshal or 

238 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

press argumentatively the proofs that He was indeed God. 
But it is necessary to see with perfect clearness, how the 
question must have been raised, and being raised must have 
been answered. The very life of the Church was belief in 
Him ; and she could not remain fundamentally uncertain as 
to who or what He was in whom she believed. This was 
the one thing which had never been allowed to those who 
drew near Christ. All through His ministry those who came 
near Him, and felt the spell of His presence, His holiness, His 
power, were undergoing a training and a sifting. Moment 
by moment, step by step, the accumulating evidence of His 
transcendently perfect humanity kept forcing more and more 
upon them all the question which He would never let them 
escape, the question by which they were to be tested and 
judged; ' What think ye of Christ ? ' ' If ye believe not that 
I am He, ye shall die in your sins.' 

If there is a true historical sense in which the clear defini- 
tion of the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus Christ must be 
assigned to the Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries, yet 
it would be a great historical blunder to state or imagine, as 
inference, that till then the doctrine was only held partially 
or with imperfect consciousness in the Catholic Church. 
The Church did not, as a result of those controversies, de- 
velop the consciousness of any new doctrine: the develop- 
ment of her consciousness was rather in respect of the shallow 
but tempting logic which would deform, or the delusions which 
might counterfeit, her doctrine, and of the perils to which 
these must lead. It may be a question, indeed, how far the 
words implicit and explicit do, or do not, represent the distinc- 
tion between the dogmatic consciousness of the Apostolic and 
the Conciliar ages. The difficulty in determining depends 
solely on this, that the words themselves are used with 
different meanings. Thus, sometimes men are said to hold 
implicitly what they never perhaps suspected themselves of 
holding, if it can be shewn to be a more or less legitimate 
outcome, or logical development, of their belief. If such men 
advance inferentially from point to point, their explicit belief 
at a later time may be, in many particulars, materially 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 239 

different from what it had been at an earlier ; even though it 
might be logically shewn that the earlier thought was, more 
or less directly, the parent of the later. Now in any such 
sense as this we shall stoutly maintain that, from the 
beginning, the Church held dogmatic truths not implicitly, 
but explicitly and positively. They who baptized into the 
threefold Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost ; whose blessing was ' The grace of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of 
the Holy Ghost ; ' who, living in the Spirit, lived in Christ ; 
whose highest worship was the Communion of the Body and 
the Blood of Christ, and whose perfectness of life was Christ ; 
they, so living and worshipping, did not hold the Godhead of 
Jesus Christ implicitly ; they did not hold something out of 
which the doctrine of the Trinity might come to be unfolded. 
On the other hand, you may use the same contrast of words, 
meaning merely that you have, through cross-questioning or 
otherwise, obtained a power which you did not possess, of 
defining, in thought and in words, the limits of your belief, 
and distinguishing it precisely from whatever does not belong 
to it. You hold still what you always meant to hold. You 
say still what you always meant to say. But it is your 
intellectual mastery over your own meaning which is altered. 
Like a person fresh from the encounter of a keen cross-exami- 
nation, you are furnished now, as you were not before, with 
distinctions and comparisons, with definitions and measure- 
ments, in a word, with all that intellectual equipment, that 
furniture of alert perception and exact language, by which you 
are able to realize for yourself, as well as to define to others, 
what that meaning exactly is, and what it is not, which itself 
was before, as truly as it is now, the very thing that you 

In this sense, no doubt, the definitions of councils did make 
Christian consciousness more explicit in relation to positive 
truth. They acquired, indeed, no new truth. Primarily they 
were rather, on this side or on that, a blocking off of such 
false forms of thought or avenues of unbalanced inference, as 
forced themselves forward, one by one, amidst the intellectual 

240 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

efforts of the time, to challenge the acceptance of Christian 
people. Primarily they are not the Church saying ' yes ' to 
fresh truths, or developments, or forms of consciousness ; but 
rather saying ' no ' to untrue and misleading modes of shaping 
and stating her truth. Only indirectly, in that effort, the 
Church acquires through them a new definiteness of mastery 
for the intellect in reference to the exactness of her own 

It is comparatively easy for those who are convinced of a 
truth to struggle against its open contradiction. But false 
modes of stating their truth, and unbalanced inferences from 
their truth, are often staggering to minds which would be 
unperplexed by any less insidious form of error. It may be 
that, in all ages of the Church, even those who are born and 


bred in undoubting faith in the Person of Jesus, have to pass, 
more or less explicitly, through their own experience of 
hesitation and exaggeration, of reaction and counter-reaction, 
before they are quite in a position to define, or maintain by 
argument in the face of insidious alternatives, the exact pro- 
portion of their own Catholic belief. 

Not unsuggestively, indeed, nor indirectly, do the oscilla- 
tions of the public consciousness in the era of the councils, as 
to the due expression of Catholic belief, reproduce on a larger 
scale, and therefore with more magnified clumsiness, the 
alternating exaggerations of such a single struggling mind. 
The natural thought begins, as a matter of course, as Apostles 
had begun of old, with the perfect and obvious certainty that 
Jesus was a man. Then comes the mighty crisis to natural 
thought. With infinite heavings and stragglings, and every 
conceivable expedient of evasion, it strains to avoid the im- 
mense conclusion which challenges it, catching eagerly at 
< -very refinement, if so be it may be possible to stop short of 
full acceptance of a truth so staggering (when it comes to 
be measured intellectually) as that the Man Jesus was 
Himself the Eternal God. Now however grossly unjust it 
might be to think of Arianism as if it ever meant, or 
held, Jesus Christ to be merely a man ; yet it is true that 
in respect of the one great question which is at the root 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 241 

of Christian faith, is He God, or is He not? it stands 
as offering alternatives and expedients, by which the plain 
answer ' yes ' may be avoided ; by which therefore the 
answer ' no ' is in effect maintained ; for between ' God ' and 
'not God' the distinction cannot be bridged. This, then, 
is the real hinge-point of the Catholic faith. But when this, 
the greatest of all battles of belief, is won at last, in spite of 
every variety of Arian and semi-Arian refining ; forthwith the 
undisciplined mind, always ready to exaggerate, always difficult 
of balance, begins so to run into ardour of expression of its 
truth, as in effect to make unreal the other half of the doc- 
trine of the Incarnation. The first great wonder once grasped, 
it is so natural, in fervour of insistance on the very Godhead, 
to forget or deny the simple completeness of the very Man- 
hood! It seems so hard, almost wanting in reverence, 
still to conceive of Him then as perfectly human, human 
body and human soul ! What more obvious reaction in the 
mind of any pupil not yet perfectly steadied and balanced ? 
Yet these few short sentences represent not untruly the real 
process of education, painfully accomplished by those intel- 
lectual struggles which culminated in the councils of Nicaea 
and Constantinople, in 325 and 381 respectively. And when 
the pupil is steadied from this second excess, and the Godhead 
and the Manhood are both grasped, each severally, each com- 
pletely, there follows again a perfectly natural result in a 
new uncertainty about the union of the two in Jesus. Ao-ain 

. 9 

it seems an instinct of reverence which shrinks from the truth. 
For the Manhood, it is urged, though complete, body, soul, 
and spirit, must yet remain, in Him, a thing separable and 
separate from His own original Divine personality. But 
if the human nature was not verily His own nature, if it was 
animated by any consciousness which was not absolutely His 
own consciousness, the consciousness of His one undivided 
personality, what or whence in Him was this other than 
His own individual consciousness ? Is it so, then, the mind 
begins necessarily to ask itself, that the mystery of the Incar- 
nate Life was the mystery of a double consciousness, a double 
personality 1 two distinguishable existences, two selves, two 


242 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

identities, side by side, harmonious, allied, yet nowhere really 
meeting in any one underlying principle of unity ? It was 
necessary that the doubt should be raised, that its meaning 
and results might be measured. But it is this which becomes 
the Nestorianism against which the council of Ephesus in 431 
set the seal of Catholic belief. Once more, the natural re- 
action from Nestorianism, when the believer is keenly alert 
against its danger, is so to insist upon the indivisible Per- 
sonal unity, as to shrink from the admission of any distin- 
guishableness in Him, actual or possible, between the two 
natures or characters which He united, between the human 
and the Divine elements in His one consciousness. But this 
is either once more to curtail the true completeness of the 
human nature, or to fuse it with the Divine into some new 
thing not truly identical with either. And this is the Mono- 
physitism of 451, the subject-matter of the fourth great general 
council at Chalcedon. 

It is said, indeed, that the ages of councils were uncritical 
ages ; and that their decisions are therefore not to be accepted 
as authoritative on questions of minute theological criticism, 
for which their uncritical spirit made them specially unfit. 
The assertion is perhaps a little beside the mark. You have 
not to plead that they were likely to be uncritical, but to 
shew that they were in fact wrong. It is clear that they 
were not specially unfit either to arrive at a definiteness of 
meaning, or to express what they meant. They were sure 
what they meant ; and have expressed it with perfect clear- 
ness. The question is not how critical they were likely to be, 
but whether their meaning which is clear is right or wrong. 
Whatever antecedent probability there may be either in the 
minds of nineteenth century critics against their correct- 
ness, or in the minds of Churchmen accustomed to defer to 
them in favour of it ; it is certain that no one who is really 
doubtful about the truth of Christianity, will be called upon 
to accept it in deference to the mere authority of the Councils. 
However much more they may be to ourselves, to such an one 
as this they must stand at least as witnesses of what the con- 
sciousness of the Christian community set its seal to, in the 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 243 

way of interpretation of its own original deposit of belief. 
We do not much care to argue whether they belonged to an 
age of criticism or not. Yet we must needs be ready to listen 
to anyone who can prove that their determinations were wrong. 
Councils, we admit, and Creeds, cannot go behind, but must 
wholly rest upon the history of our Lord Jesus Christ. If 
anyone could seriously convict the Creeds of being unscrip- 
tural, we must listen to him and bow, as scientific men 
would have to bow to anyone who really could prove the 
fundamental propositions of their science to be wrong. But 
meanwhile, so complete is the historical acceptance of the 
Creeds, and their consecration in the consciousness of the 
Church ; that there is at least as clear a presumption that we 
are uncatholic in differing from them, as there would be that 
we were unscientific if we dissented from the most universally 
accepted faiths of science. 

Now even this, the most commonplace statement of the 
growth of Christian definitions, will serve to mark what the 
nature of dogma is. So far from faith without it being a 
thing more spiritual or pure, faith without it is a thing ir- 
rational. Faith in what ? I cannot have faith without an 
object. Faith in Jesus Christ 1 ? But who is Jesus Christ 1 ? 
Is He a dead man ? Is He, as a dead man, no longer in any 
existence ? Or am I, at least, necessarily ignorant as to 
whether He and other dead men have any existence, actual 
or probable ? Or is He a man indeed, no more ; and dead 
indeed ; but, as other good men, alive after death somehow in 
the blessedness of God ? And what then did His life mean ? 
or His strange deliberate dying? or what connection have 
they of meaning or power with me ? And this God that you 
speak of; do I know anything of Him? or what? or how? 
Or again, is Jesus Himself the living God? And are the 
things true which are handed down to me in the Church as 
taught by Himself about the relations of God ? Is He my 
living Master ; my very Kedeemer by the Cross ; my eternal 
Judge? and where and how have I contact in life or soul 
with the benefits of His Cross, or the power of His help ? If 
indeed I have nothing to do with Him, and no interest in His 

B 2 

244 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

history, it is possible for me to go on without caring to answer 
such questions. But faith in Him can have no meaning 
while these are ignored. The question whether He is or is 
not God, is one which cannot but be asked and answered. 

And either answer to the question is alike dogmatic. The 
Arian is no less dogmatic than the Catholic. A dogmatic 
faith is only a definite faith ; and that upon questions upon 
which it has become irrational to remain indefinite, after 
I have once been brought to a certain point of acquaintance 
with them. The question between the Catholic and the 
Arian is, not whose doctrine evades definiteness of determi- 
nation, but whose dogma is in accord with the truth and 
its evidence. The negative answer to the question proposed 
would only be unjudicial, not undogmatic. Meanwhile, the 
affirmative answer would be so complete a concession of the 
whole position, that if it has once been made, as much has 
really been admitted, so far as any battle about dogma goes, 
as if the whole formal statement of the Athanasian Creed 
had been expressly, as it will have been implicitly, included. 
There is nothing, then, really to fight against in these words, 
' The rio-ht faith is, that we believe and confess that our 


Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man ; God, 
of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: 
and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world ; 
perfect God, and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and 
human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father, as touching 
His Godhead ; and inferior to the Father, as touching His 
Manhood. Who although He be God and Man : yet He is 
not two, but one Christ ; One ; not by conversion of the 
Godhead into flesh ; but by taking of the Manhood into God ; 
One altogether ; not by confusion of substance, but by unity 
of Person.' 

Another thing which perhaps the same commonplace state- 
ment may illustrate as to the character of Christian dogma, 
is its largeness and equity. It is harmony ; it is proportion ; 
it is the protest of balanced completeness against all that 
partiality, which, by exaggerating something that is true, 
distorts the proportion and simplicity of truth. Every several 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 245 

form of error, we admit it willingly, grew out of, and re- 
presented, a truth. Catholic doctrine alone preserves the 
proportion of truth. To work and to think within the lines 
of dogmatic faith, is to work and to think upon the true 
and harmonious conception of the Person of Jesus Christ 
' Quern nosse vivere, Cui servire regnare.' In this knowledge 
certainly there is no limitedness, and in this subordination 
no slavery. 

The meaning of Christian dogma, then, so far as we have 
at present had anything to do with it, is simply this. It is 
the self-realizing of the consciousness of the Christian com- 
munity in respect of the answer to be given to that one 
great question, fundamental and inevitable, with which all 
in all times who would approach Christ must be met, 
' Whom say ye that I am 1 ' 

But, it will be felt, it is all very well to insist so much 
upon this one point, which it is comparatively easy to repre- 
sent as the necessary answer of a truthful conscience to a 
question which is forced upon it by the plainest evidence ; 
but are there not a great many Christian doctrines besides 1 ? 
What of the rest of them, 'all the articles of the Christian 
faith,' as the Catechism says ? I have ventured to speak at 
length upon this one, not because it is easier to handle con- 
veniently than the others, but because it directly carries, if 
it does not contain, everything. It is not only that this is 
in itself so tremendous a dogma, that no one who affirms this 
can possibly quarrel any longer with the principle of dogmatic 
definition, but that this so inevitably involves all the other 
propositions of the Creed, that no one, whose conscience has 
accepted this, will find it easy to separate between it and 
the whole Christian faith. 

The Christian Creed consists of three parts only ; and all 
three are, ' Belief in God.' ' I believe in God, the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost ' is. in brief, the whole Christian 
Creed. Its shortest expression is in three words (which three 
words are but one), ' Holy, Holy, Holy.' The definitions of 
the Apostles', of the Nicene, and of the Athanasian Creeds, 
none of them really travel outside of this. Take, for example, 

246 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Intellectually it is, of 
course, antecedent to the doctrine of the Incarnation and the 
Atonement. But it will be observed that it is made known 
to us not antecedently, but as a consequence of our previous 
conviction of the Incarnation. Moreover, when it is made 
known, it is made known rather incidentally than directly. 
Even though it is, when revealed and apprehended, the in- 
clusive sum of our faith, yet there is, in the revelation, no 
formal unfolding of it, as of a mysterious truth set to chal- 
lenge our express contemplation and worship. There is 
nothing here to be found in the least corresponding with the 
explicit challenge, ' Whom say ye that I am ? ' or ' On this 
rock will I build My Church ; ' but rather indirectly, so far 
as our contemplation of the Incarnation, and its abiding con- 
sequences, requires for its own necessary interpretation to our 
understanding, that we should have some insight into the 
mystery of the distinction of Persons in the Godhead, so far, 
and in reference to that purpose, the mystery of the Holy 
Trinity grows gradually into clearness of revelation to our 
consciousness. It is clear that any distinctness of conception 
whatever as to the meaning of Incarnation would be im- 
possible, without some revelation of mutual relations between 
the Sender and the Sent, the Immutable and the Incarnate, 
the Father and the Son. If it is less clear from the first, it 
is surely not less certain, that any conception we may have 
of the relation so revealed between the Father and the Son, 
would be fainter by far, and less intelligible than it is, if it 
were not for that which our Lord Jesus Christ has told us 
as to the office and nature of the Holy Spirit ; if with our 
growing conception of distinctness and relation as between 
the Sender and the Sent, we had not also some added con- 
ception of that Blessed Spirit of Holiness, Who, emanating 
from both, is the Spirit of both alike, and is thereby also the 
very bond of perfectness of Love whereby both are united in 
One ; and whereby, further, all spirits in whom God's presence 
dwells, are united, so far, in a real oneness of spirit with one 
another and with God. And it is quite certain, that whether 
we seem to anyone to be right or no in treating this reve- 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. ,247 

lation of the Holy Ghost as a necessary, if incidental, part of 
what we had need to be taught of the revelation of the 
Father and the Son, in order to make Incarnation properly 
intelligible ; it is altogether essential for that other purpose, 
in connection with which the revelation is more immediately 
made, that is, for any understanding on our part of the abiding 
work of God in His Church, after the Resurrection and Ascen- 
sion. ' The holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, 
the Forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the body, and 
the life everlasting ; ' these are not miscellaneous items thrown 
in at the end of the Creed after the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity is finished, but they are essential parts of the under- 
standing of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost : and on the other 
hand, without the revelation of the Person and work of the 
Holy Ghost, these doctrines, practical though they be, and 
vital for practice, no less indeed than the very essence and 
meaning of the work of the Incarnation from the day of 
Ascension forwards, that is to say the whole historical effect 
and fruit of the Incarnation, would be evacuated of all living 
meaning, and would become for us only the empty phrases 
of a far-away baseless yearning, which even now (apart from 
the life of the Holy Spirit informing us) they are ever too 
ready to become. 

It is hoped that even such brief statements may at least 
serve to indicate how it is true that the whole of our Chris- 
tian creed, even those parts which seem most separable from 
it, or antecedent to it, are for us really contained in the one 
crucial doctrine of the Incarnation, that is, of the eternal 
Godhead of the Man Christ Jesus. And this will compel us 
once more to recognise the simplicity of Christian dogma. 
It does not mean a complicated system of arbitrary definitions 
upon a great variety of subjects of religious speculation, for- 
mulated one after another by human ingenuity, and imposed 
by human despotism upon the consciences of the unthinking 
or the submissive ; it means rather the simple expression 
(guarded according to experience of misconception) of the 
fundamental fact of the Incarnation, together with such reve- 
lation as to the relations of the Divine Being, and the wonder 


248 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

of His work amongst men, as is clearly lit up by the event 
of the Incarnation itself, and is required for such apprehen- 
sion of the meaning and effects of the Incarnation, as Jesus 
Christ held to be meet and necessary for us. 

And so it is with all parts of Christian doctrine. If they 
would be found to be necessarily contained in a full un- 
folding of the great truth which the Creed so briefly and 
simply declares, then they really are parts of our faith, 
because they are really involved in the understanding of 
the threefold revelation to man of the Name of God, which 
is the sum total of our faith. But if the Name of our God 
does not contain them, they are not in our creed or our faith. 
Is there, for example, a visible Church ? Is there an Apostolic 
Ministry ? The answer depends on the inquiry as to what 
is revealed, first in Scripture, and then in history, as to the 
method of the working of the Spirit of Christ in the world. 
Did the Old Testament prefigure, in action and in utterance, 
did the Incarnation require, did the Gospels interpret or com- 
ment upon, did the Apostles organize or govern, any definitely 
articulated society, with ceremonies or officers, rules or dis- 
cipline, of its own 1 Was this, the method of association and 
membership, or was some other, the mode of the working of 
the Spirit of the Christ among men ? Is the work of Christ, 
in redeeming and reconciling to God, is His present relation 
to the world, properly intelligible, or not, apart from the 
Church 1 Is the ministry of the Church, or are the sacraments 
of the Church, to those who thoughtfully read Scripture and 
history, a demonstrable part, or normal condition, of the 
working of the Holy Ghost in the Church ? If so, belief in them 
is contained in my words, not only when I say, ' I believe in 
the holy Catholic Church,' but also, though less plainly, when 
I say, ' I believe in the Holy Ghost.' But if not, it is not 
contained. If they are really separable from the Catholic 
Church, truly understood, or from the understanding of the 
Holy Spirit and His work, then they are no part of what 
any Christian need believe. But so far as the holy Catholic 
Church, so far as the orderly, covenanted work of the Holy 
Spirit in the world, involves and contains the idea of the 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 249 

ministry or the sacraments, so far every Christian will know, 
just in proportion as he knows the true meaning of his creed, 
that he is bound to them. It is no part of my business to 
pursue the question of the sacraments or the ministry further 

It may be observed, perhaps, that the Creed contains no 
proposition expressly about ourselves, about the fall, for 
instance, or about sin. Yet in and from the first word of the 
Creed, I of course am present there : and as to formal propo- 
sitions about myself, it may be that they are not so much 
articles of belief, as, rather, conditions of mind antecedent to 
belief, conditions of self-consciousness to which belief fits and 
responds, and without which the Creed itself would be un- 
intelligible. But what is thus necessarily implied and in- 
volved in the terms of the Creed, is after all substantially 
contained in that Creed to which it is a condition of intelligible- 
ness. Of course my creed necessarily presupposes myself. I 
cannot believe at all, except I am, and have a certain history 
and faculties. I cannot believe in God as Father, as Almighty, 
as Creator, without implying and including within that 
belief the fundamental facts of my nature and relation to 
Him. I cannot believe in the Incarnation and the Redemp- 
tion, their meaning or their consequences, I cannot believe 
in the Holy Spirit, or have any intelligent apprehension of 
His working, except there be implied, as conditions of my 
consciousness necessary to that intelligence, some apprehen- 
sion of that which is meant by the fall, some inalienable sense 
of evil, of sin, of the banishment from God which is the fruit 
of sin, of the inherent contradiction to my nature, the un- 
natural penalty and horror, which the banishment of sin 
involves. So probation, judgment, heaven, hell, are beliefs 
which grow by inevitable consequence out of the apprehen- 
sion, once grasped, of the nature and distinction of good and 
evil ; they are necessary corollaries from the full perception of 
the eternal Tightness of right, the eternal wrongness of wrong, 
the eternal separation and contrast between right and wrong ; 
in a word, from belief in God on the part of man. 
, Perhaps this illustration may serve to shew how much, 

250 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

that is not obvious in the letter, may nevertheless be really 
contained in man's utterance of the Name of God. 

III. But while the doctrines of the Church which her Creeds 
express are thus as simple as they are profound, it is 
no doubt true that there has grown up round about them 
a considerable body of theological teaching, more or less com- 
plicated, which is really of the nature of comment upon them, 
or explication of their nature and meaning. When we speak 
of the dogmas of Christianity, it is right to distinguish, with 
the clearest possible line of demarcation, between all this 
mass of explanatory teaching (more or less authoritative as it 
may from time to time appear to be) and the central truths 
themselves, which are our real certainties. The doctrine itself 
is one thing : the theories explicative of the doctrine are 
another. They may be of the highest value in their own 
time and place ; but they are not the immutable principles of 
Church truth. To say this is not really to depreciate the work 
of theological writers and teachers of different ages ; but it is 
to assign to their work its true position. The current mode 
of explaining a doctrine in one age, and bringing it home by 
illustrations to the imagination of men, may be discredited 
and superseded in another. When the current mode of state- 
ment or illustration begins to be more or less discredited, the 
minds of quiet people are apt to be distressed. This is 
because very few of us can distinguish between the truths 
themselves which we hold, and the (often mistaken) modes of 
expression by which we seem to explain our truths to our- 
selves. Even when our explanation is substantially true, the 
doctrine is still a different thing from our explanation of it ; 
and if any imperfection is detected in our explanation of it, it 
is not truth which suffers ; it is only that truth is being dis- 
tinguished from our imperfect and unconscious glosses ; and 
thereby in the end the truth can only be served. Perhaps no 
illustration of this can be more convincing than that which 
the history of the doctrine of Atonement supplies. That 
Christ died upon the cross for us, that He offered Himself as 
a sacrifice, and that we are redeemed through His blood, this 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 251 

is a belief fundamental to Christianity; nor has the Church 
ever wavered for an instant in her strong faith in this. But 
when we go further, and come to the different illustrations 
that have been given to make the precise nature of Atonement 
clear to human logic, when in fact we enter upon the domain 
of explicative theories, we have not only left the sure ground 
of the Creeds, and embarked upon views which may or may 
not be correct, but we find, as a fact, that the modes of 
thought which seemed adequately to explain the doctrine to 
the conscience of some ages, have not only failed to satisfy, 
but have actually shocked and offended, others. The teaching 
that God was angry, but that Jesus, as a result of gentler 
mercy, and through His innocent blood, appeased, by satisfy- 
ing, the wrath of the Father, and so reconciled God to us ; 
the teaching that Satan had obtained a right over man, but 
that Jesus, by giving up Himself, paid a splendid ransom 
into the hands of Satan ; the teaching that a debt was due 
from humanity to God, and that Jesus, clothed as man, alone 
could deliver man by discharging God's debt : these be they 
popular blunderings, or genuine efforts of Theology may, 
in their times, have both helped and wounded consciences; 
but whether they be to us as helps or hindrances, it is of 
the utmost importance that we should discriminate them, 
or others which may have succeeded to them as theories ex- 
planatory of the Atonement, from our cardinal belief in the 
Atonement itself. We may have rightly seen what is vicious 
in these statements, and we may have greatly improved upon 
them, but however much more helpful our modes of exposi- 
tion may prove themselves to our own minds or those of our 
hearers, we may only be repeating the old error, and leading 
the way to fresh distresses in the future, if we confound our 
mode of explanatory comment with the truth of the doctrine 
itself, and claim that the mysterious fact of the Atonement 
means exactly that which is our own best approach to a 
statement, in illustrative words, of what it expresses to us. 

But it may be asked, Are you not saying too much? 
Does not this seem to mean that the doctrines themselves 
are little better than unintelligible symbols, which need not 

252 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

indeed be changed for the simple reason that they can be 
made to mean whatever is necessary to suit the times ? No, 
the truth of them does not change ; and even the changeful 
modes of presenting them are less changeful, after all, than 
they seem. They cannot indefinitely vary ; there is one 
thing which unites them all, and that is the truth itself which 
lies behind them all. The Atonement is a fact, whether I 
can adequately expound it or no. The Atonement is a fact, 
which my attempted expositions do indeed represent, more or 
less correctly, more or less clumsily, even when I seem most 
to have failed. Much as they may seem to differ, and in- 
consistent as they may appear with each other, yet not one 
of them really represents untruth but truth. Imperfect 
images they may be, and in respect of their imperfections, 
diverse and distorting ; yet there is not one of the theories of 
Atonement referred to above not even such as are now seen to 
contain most error which did not, as seriously held, represent 
and convey some real image of the truth. It may be that 
the truth which they represented was conveyed in an inexact 
way ; and that afterwards, when attention was concentrated 
on the points of inexactness, the statement became, and 
would have become, more and more misleading; it was no 
longer then a possible vehicle of truth ; but what it had 
really conveyed to those to whom it was living, was a real 
soul-enlightening image of the truth of the Atonement. It 
was an imperfect image ; it was even in part a distorted 
image, as everything that I see through my window is in 
part distorted. But it was a real image of the real truth 
none the less. 

Local and popular modes of exposition then are often 
as the medium through which dogmatic truth is seen and 
apprehended, not always, certainly, without distortion. 
But the more catholic the truth, the more it retains its 
identity of form, however remote from each other, in place 
or time, the diverse types of mind which view and teach it, 
so much the purer must it be from accidental or temporary 
conditionings ; so much the nearer, in rank, to a fundamental 
doctrine of the Catholic Church. 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 253 

We do not, of course, distinguish Catholic dogma from 
theological literature, as though the one were bare facts, and 
the other all explanations of the facts. But we may rightly 
confine the use of the word ' dogma ' to the fundamental facts, 
together with such explanation of them as the Church has 
agreed, by universal instinct, or by dogmatic decree en- 
dorsed through ecumenical acceptance, to be essential to a 
reasonable apprehension of the facts. 

It is the more important to guard with unfaltering clearness 
this distinction between dogma on the one hand, and theo- 
logical literature on the other, because it is, no doubt, in the 
sphere of explanatory theories and expressions, that most of 
those controversies find their place, which distress quiet minds, 
and rouse hot battles of orthodoxy between sincere Christian 
combatants. If it could be recognised at the time how far the 
apparent innovators of successive generations were really ques- 
tioning not the doctrines themselves, but certain traditional 
modes of thought and teaching which have wrongly ad- 
hered to the doctrines, there would be fewer accusations of 
heterodoxy, and less distress and perplexity amongst the 
orthodox. But it is natural enough that this should not be 
perceived by the defenders, when the innovators themselves 
are so often both blind and indifferent to it. And it is just 
herein that the different innovators are apt to make them- 
selves indefensible. Too often they think that they are 
making real advance upon the doctrines of the Church and 
her Creeds, and they are elated, instead of being ashamed, at 
the thought. They make light of loyalty, they despise the 
birthright of their Churchmanship, and find their own self- 
exaltation in the very consciousness of offending their 
brethren. This, whether done under provocation or no, is to 
depart from the spirit of the Church of Christ, in temper and 
meaning at least. even though their work in the long run 
should prove (as it must so far as there is truth in it) only to 
serve the interest and work of the Church. 

It is easier to see this in retrospect than in struggle. But 
perhaps those who look back upon the struggles of the last 
generation within the Church, will recognise that the orthodox 

254 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

thought of the present day has been not a little cleared and 
served, not merely by the work of orthodox defence, but in no 
small part by the work of the ' liberalizers ' also. To say 
this, is by no means necessarily to acquit the liberalizers, or to 
cast a slur upon those who fought against them. Such con- 
demnations or acquittals depend upon other considerations, 
which do not concern us here. But putting wholly aside as 
irrelevant all condemnation or acquittal of individuals, we 
may yet acknowledge that the work done has in the end 
served the cause of the truth and the Church. This is 
said, of course, of its real intellectual outcome ; certainly 
not of the unsettling of souls by the way. And it is 
also to be noted that even when the fruit of their work has 
been in a real sense, after all, accepted and incorporated, it is 
hardly ever in the sense, and never quite with the results, 
which they, so far as they had allowed themselves to be mal- 
contents, had supposed. But if whatever is good and true in 
their work becomes, after all, an element in the conscious- 
ness of the Church, might not the work itself have been 
done, all along, in perfect Church loyalty ? In so far as 
different earnest writers of a generation ago, or of to-day, 
are really, whether consciously or not, making a contribution 
to one of the great theological tasks of our time, in so far (that 
is) as they are helping towards the correction of erroneous 
fancies of popular theology, helping, for instance, to modify 
that superstitious over-statement about 'justification' which 
would really leave no meaning in ' righteousness ; ' or to limit 
the grossness of the theory often represented by the word 
' imputation ; ' or to rebuke the nervous selfishness of reli- 
gionists whose one idea of the meaning of religion was ' to be 
saved ;' or to qualify the materialism or superstition of ignorant 
sacramentalists ; or to banish dogmatic realisms about hell, or 
explications of atonement which malign God's Fatherhood ; 
or the freezing chill and paralysis of all life supposed before 
now to be necessarily involved in the Apostolic words 'pre- 
destination' and 'election;' so far they are really, though it 
may be from the outside and very indirectly, doing the work 
of the Church. But the pity of it is that the men who do 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 255 

this kind of service are so apt to spoil it, by overvaluing 
themselves and forgetting the loveliness and the power of 
perfect subordination to the Church. We may own that Church 
people and Church rulers have too often been the stumbling- 
block. It is they who again and again have seemed to fight 
against everything, and by intellectual apathy, and stern moral 
proscription of every form of mental difficulty (wherein often- 
times are the birth-throes of enlightenment) to drive living 
and growing intelligence out of the Church. It is true that 

o o o 

the greatest of Churchmen would, if the badge of their work 
were submissiveness, have sometimes to wait awhile, and bear 
delay, and wrong from inferior minds, with the patience of 
humility. Yes ; but that work of theirs, if it once were 
stamped with this seal of patient submissiveness, would be a 
glory to the Church for ever, like the work of her quiet 
confessors, the work of a Scupoli, a Ken, or a Fenelon ; 
instead of being, as it more often seems to be, a great 
offending and perplexing of thousands of the very consciences 
which deserve to be treated most tenderly, and therefore also 
a wrong and a loss to the conscience and character of the 

Are statements like these a concession to the antidogmatist ? 
If so, they are one to which, in the name of truth, he is 
heartily welcome. And perhaps, under the same high sanc- 
tion we may add what will look, to some minds, like another. 
We claimed some time since that the Creed must be, to 
Christians, rather a complete and conclusive than a partial or 
a tentative statement of truth. Yet there is one sense in 
which we may own that even the definitions of the Creeds may 
themselves be called relative and temporary. For we must 
not claim for phrases of earthly coinage a more than earthly 
and relative completeness. The Creeds are temporary, in that 
they are a complete and sufficient statement of truth only 
for time. And therefore they are only quite perfectly adequate 
to express those truths which have their place in time. But 
we, in respect of truths which transcend time, if we cannot 
as yet be freed from the trammels and limits of earthly 
thought and expression, yet can recognise at least the fact, 

256 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

that we are, even in our Creeds, still labouring within those 
trammels. We may have ground for believing the Creeds of 
the Church to be the most perfectly balanced and harmonious 
expression of the truth whereof our earthly knowledge is, or 
will be, capable. Yet when we struggle, as in the lano-uao-e 


of the Athanasian Creed, to express the relations which 
have been exhibited to us in the eternal Godhead through 
the use of the words ' Person ' and ' Substance,' or imoirraa-ts 
and owlet ; or when we thus profess our belief in the Person 
of the Holy Ghost, ' The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of 
the Son : neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but pro- 
ceeding,' need we fear to own that the instruments which, 
perforce, we make use of upon earth, even in the Creeds of 
the Church, are necessarily imperfect instruments ; the power 
of conception imperfect; the power of phrase and imagery 
imperfect also ; and that their sufficiency of truth (though 
not their correctness meanwhile) is so far temporary that it 
is limited to earth and to time ; and that, in the perfect light 
and knowledge of the presence of God, the perfectest know- 
ledge represented by them will be superseded and absorbed, 
while the glosses and materialisms with which, in various 
ways, we may have been unconsciously clothing them to our 
own imaginations, will be not superseded only but corrected, 
and, it may be, reproved ? Moreover, if the truths represented 
in the Creeds are wider and deeper than our conceptions of 
them, we can admit that there may possibly be particulars 
in which, even now, the experience of spiritual life may 
deepen and enlarge the meaning, to us, of our Creeds ; as, for 
instance, the words heaven and hell may present to us ideas 
differing, in the direction of more correctness, from those 
which they presented to some of our forefathers. It is not 
that the Creeds will be some day corrected. It is not 
that we shall see hereafter how false they were, but how 
far the best conceptions which they opened to us, the 
best, that is, that our earthly faculties were capable 
of, lagged in their clumsiness behind the perfect apprehen- 
sion of the truths which they had, nevertheless, not untruly 
represented ; but which we then shall have power to see and 

vi. The Incarnation . as the basis of Dogma. 257 

know as they are. The truth which is dimly imaged for us 
in the Creeds, will never belie, but will infinitely transcend, 
what their words represented on earth. 

But it will very naturally be asked by what right we speak 
thus of the Creeds. In the very moment of admitting, in 
one sense, their incompleteness and want of finality, by what 
right do we lay down still that they are final and complete 
to the end of time ; that is, perhaps, through ages of human 
advance, of which we may have now no conception at all ? 
Such a question does not apply to the strictly historical state- 
ments which constitute the foundation of our creed, but to 
those interpretations of historical fact, and to those assertions 
about the Divine Being and its relations, which necessarily 
transcend time and experience. And after all, perhaps, the 
answer is not difficult. We have to consider, first, that for 
the very reason that these beliefs do absolutely transcend 
time and experience, therefore no human development which 
belongs merely to time and experience, can, in itself, displace 
or improve upon them ; and secondly, that our knowledge 
of these truths is really derived from a Divine revelation, 
which took place, as we believe, within time and experience. 
We may say, indeed, that the statements of this Divine reve- 
lation are corroborated to us, by such elements of thought as 
our reason (which we believe to be also in its reality Divine) 
is able to supply. It remains, however, that they can only 
really be proved or disproved, by arguments which go to 
prove or disprove the truth of the historical Incarnation, and 
of the revelations which it contains. 

It follows from hence that we have a valid right to hold 
them not only true, but final in their statement of truth for 
this present world, exactly so far as we have a right to 
believe that our historical revelation is, for time, a final 
one. Should there, indeed, be a wholly fresh revelation, the 
amount of truth hitherto revealed might be superseded ; but 
nothing short of a revelation can supersede it. The idea that 
any advance of human reason could be inconsistent with it, 
involves for the Christian who believes human reason to be 
divinely reflected and divinely implanted, nothing less than 


258 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

an unthinkable contradiction. We may therefore believe it 
in any case to be final, till the coming of a further revelation : 
and so far as there is anything in the truth already revealed 
to us, which may warrant us in feeling confident that 
there is no fresh revelation in store, within the limits of 
time, by which the revelation of Jesus Christ will be super- 
seded, just so far and no further are we justified in claim- 
ing for those clauses in the Creed, whose subject-matter 
transcends time and experience, that they are the com- 
pletest expressions of their truths which can be reached in 

IV. It may, perhaps, be a matter of prudence to refer for a 
moment to what are called the ' damnatory clauses ' of the 
Athanasian Creed ; though it would not be necessary to do 
so for the purpose of any positive statement or explanation 
of Christian doctrine. These clauses, however, to the positive 
statement add a negative. It is easy to misunderstand them, 
and even, by misrepresenting, to make them appear gro- 
tesque. But if the question be as to what they really mean, 
they are, after all, to the Christian, an obvious and necessary 
corollary of the Creed which is his life. There is but One 
God, and One Heaven, and One Salvation ; not a choice of alter- 
native salvations, or heavens, or gods. There is One Incar- 
nation, One Cross, One Divine restoring and exalting of 
humanity. There is One Spirit of God, One Church the 
fabric and the method of the working of the Spirit, One 
Spiritual Covenant with man. Man must have part in this 
One, or he has part in none ; for there is no other. Man must 
have knowledge of this One, belief in this One ; or there is 
none for him to believe in or to know. God's covenant is 
with His Church on earth ; and the statements of the Creed 
are the representation in words of that knowledge of the 
truth which the Church possesses, the possession of which is 
her life. The Athanasian Creed is not addressed to outsiders, 
but to those who are within the Church. For encouragement, 
or (if necessary) for warning, it insists to them on the uniqueness 
of their faith. To have hold on God is to have hold on Life. 
To revolt from God is to revolt from Life. This is so, to 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 259 

those who have or ought to have learnt that it is so, both in 
fact and in thought. Thus, in fact, to drop out of communion 
with the Incarnation of Christ, is to drop out of communion 
with the inner realities and possibilities of humanity. But 
the mind, and its convictions and meanings, cannot wholly be 
separated from the facts of the life. There comes, at least in 
most lives, a time when the man's own allegiance to the facts 
is a necessary condition of his identification with them. ' If 
ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.' 
There comes a point at which the mind's refusal of the doc- 
trines of religion is the man's revolt from the facts ; and such 
a revolt is repudiation of the One revelation of God, the One 
Incarnation, the One Salvation, the One Church or Covenant. 
This must be broadly true, true in the abstract, as principle, 
unless truth and falsehood, right and wrong, are fundamentally 
false distinctions, and every man is to be equally good, and 
equally compelled to heaven. At what point any individual 
p:vson, or class of persons, does, or does not, in the sight of 
the Judge who knows the whole inward history, and tries 
the most secret motive, fall within the scope of this principle, 
and incur the final condemnation of rebellion against the one 
light and hope of all humanity, is another question altogether. 
Any such application of the principle to the case of individuals 
belongs only to God the Judge, and would be an arrogant im- 
piety in any man. Even when such a question may have to 
be determined ecclesiastically, the ecclesiastical condemnation 
and sentence, though expressly representing in shadow the 
eternal sentence, is none the less quite distinct, and indeed 
in its ultimate motive even contrasted with it. But however 
unchristian it may be to say that A or B will perish ever- 
lastingly, the principle nevertheless is true, that the truth 
which the Creed embodies, the truth of which Christ's In- 
carnation is the pivot and centre, is the only deliverance from 
everlasting perishing ; and that whole-hearted union and 
communion with this truth, is that true state of Church life 
which alone has the certain seal of the covenant of God. 
This broad truth it is, the necessary complement of any hold- 
ing of the Christian creed as true, which these clauses affirm. 

s 2, 

260 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

If it be said, ' your Athanasian Creed is simple and tren- 
chant ; it has no qualifications such as you admit ' ; our reply 
would be threefold. First, the Creed is part of our heritage 
from the past, and its phraseology is not our handiwork ; 
but we know that the necessary qualifications with which 
we understand its phraseology have been generally recognised 
by the Church from which we inherit it. Secondly, the 
Quicunque vult is, strictly, not so much a creed as a canticle ; 
it has never been used as a test of Church communion ; and 
it speaks, on a point like this, as the Te Deum would speak, 
in the language not of judicial award but of devotional 
loyalty. Thirdly, the qualifications with which we say that 
any generalisation about man's responsibility for belief, 
whether in this ' canticle ' or in scripture, must necessarily 
be understood, are only such as all men apply to any similar 
generalisation about responsibility for conduct. ' If ye be- 
lieve not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins,' is paralleled 
by ' They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom 
of God.' We claim only to interpret the one as rationally as 
all men understand the other. 

It has seemed to be desirable, while insisting upon the 
claims of dogma, not indeed in the name of allegiance to 
imposed authority, but in the name of truth, and on the ground 
of its simple identity with truth, to try to state, with the utmost 
possible plainness, whatever could be truly admitted in the 
way of apparent qualification of those claims. Truth is 
supreme, and eternal ; and dogma, so far as it coincides with 
truth, is, of course, all that truth is. For the dogmatic posi- 
tion of the Church and her Creeds, we claim that it is the 
true and simple expression upon earth of the highest truth 
that is, or can be, known. But dogmatic theologians are not 
infallible, and so far as the name of dogma has been claimed 
for mistaken presumption or misleading statement of truth, 
so far may dogma have seemed to fight against truth. The 
words, indeed, 'dogmatic' and ' dogmatism' have acquired a bad 
reputation. But this is not the fault of dogma. A dogmatist, 
in the invidious sense of the word, does not mean one who 
studies dogma, but rather one who foolishly utters what are 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 261 

not dogmas as if they were. The dogmatic temper is the 
temper of one who is imperiously confident that he is right 
when he is not. That is to say, the words dogma, dogmatic, 
dogmatize, etc., are commonly used of something which is the 
mere abuse and travesty of 'their proper meaning. It is hard 
that dogma itself should be prejudiced by this caricaturing 
misuse of its name. 

Meanwhile, if real charges be brought against any part of 
our dogmatic creed, we are willing most honestly to examine 
into them. In so far as they are made against current 
suppositions, which are separable from our essential belief, 
separable as, for example, we now see various details of tradi- 
tional belief about the first chapter of Genesis to be separable 
we join our critics in the examination with a mind as open 
as they could desire. And it must, in simple candour, be 
admitted further, that upon the appearance of any new form 
of thought, Churchmen have not generally been quick of mind 
to discriminate the essential from the non-essential, so as to 
receive at first, with any openness of mind, what they had 
afterwards to admit that they might have received from the 
first. But not even this admission must prevent us from 
claiming, that when that to which exception is taken does 
really belong to the essential truths of our creed, which to us 
are more absolutely established certainties than anything in 
heaven and earth besides, they must pardon us if, while we 
are still willing to give the most candid hearing possible to 
everything that they have to urge, we yet cannot, if we 
would, divest ourselves of the deepest certainties of our exist- 
ence ; cannot therefore pretend to argue with more openness 
of mind than would scientific professors say with a cham- 
pion who undertook to prove that the globe was flat, or that 
the sun went round the earth. We are ready to listen to 
everything. We are fully prepared to find that the champion 
may produce in evidence some phenomena which we shall be 
unable to account for. We have found it before ; we are 
not unaccustomed to finding it (though, in good time, the 
perplexity always unravels itself) ; and we shall be in no way 
disconcerted if we find it again. But we cannot pretend 

262 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

meanwhile to hold all the truth which our consciences have 
known in suspense. 

V. What was said just now about the Creeds will not, it is 
hoped, appear to any minds to fail in the entire respect which 
if due to them. Yet it makes it, perhaps, the more incum- 
bent upon us to take notice of another form of attack upon 
dogma, which connects itself with an attitude about the 

O " 

Creeds, such as may seem at first sight to be not wholly 
dissimilar ; though presently all the foundations of dogma 
are dissolved by it. But in point of fact, if we admit that 
what the Creeds mean on earth, is less than what the same 
truths will mean in heaven, or that there may be, even 
here, a clumsier, and a completer, understanding of them ; 
this is a position essentially different from maintaining 
that what the Creeds both say and mean, is not only 
less than, but (if strictly taken) inconsistent with, the 
real truth ; and that not in any transcendent sense, as 
celestial beings, with wholly other faculties, may conceiv- 
ably have power of apprehending it in heaven, but as the 
more intelligent among us may, and do, see it now. This 
is not only to admit that the Creeds are built up, perforce, of 
materials which belong to this earth ; but to treat them as 
mere serviceable fictions for the teaching of the uncivilized 
or the young. The deliberate unbeliever, indeed, assumes 
that the Creeds mean what they say, and that the Church 
understands the Creeds. Assuming this, he parts company 
with the Church, because he holds that the statements of her 
Creeds are, in fact, fictitious. But it may surprise us to find 
that there is another form of this view of the fictitiousness of 
Creeds, and that here the critic speaks, not at all in the 
character of an unbeliever, but rather in that of an enlight- 
ened Churchman. All Christian truth, he says, is true. Even 
the Creeds in a real sense represent the truth. But the 
Church's understanding and expression of Christian truth in 
the Creeds, is, none the less, strictly, a misrepresentation of the 
truth. Though the truth of Christ lies behind the Church's 
Creeds, yet they have so overlaid, and thereby, in strict speech, 
misstated it, that it is only the patience of criticism, which 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 263 

cutting bravely adrift from the authority of traditional in- 
terpretation, has succeeded in discriminating between the 
Creeds and the meaning of the Creeds, and behind what are 
practically the fictions of dogmatic Christianity, has re-dis- 
covered the germs of Christian truth. Neither the facts of 
the life of Jesus Christ, nor His teaching, nor His consciousness 
in regard of Himself, were as we have been taught, but were 
something different. He never thought nor taught of Himself 
as personally God, nor did He perform any miracles, nor did 
He rise on the third day from the dead. Whatever scrip- 
tures state these things explicitly, are proved by that very 
fact to be glosses or errors. And yet, all the while, every- 
thing is true spiritually. The record of the Incarnate Life is 
true literally, it may be, at comparatively few points ; cer- 
tainly not the story of the Birth ; certainly not the story of 
the Resurrection ; certainly not any incident which involves, 
or any expression which implies, miracle. But the Birth, the 
Resurrection, the miracles, every one of them, represent, in 
the most splendid of imaginative language and portraiture, 
essential spiritual truths. They are fictions, but vivid repre- 
sentations, in fiction, of fact; splendid truths, therefore, so 
long as they are understood to be literally fictitious, but per- 
versions of truth, if taken for truth of fact. 

It is this conception which was set forth not long ago with 
a singular power and persuasiveness by the author of The 
Kernel and the Husk. The lofty level of thought, the 
restraint and felicity of language, above all the deeply religious 
spirit of the author, invest his arguments with a charm of 
unusual attractiveness. The arguments are not such as it is 
wholly pleasant to see thus recommended. He deals in 
detail, in the course of the volume, with much of the narra- 
tive of Scripture, with the purpose of shewing how one by 
one the various records, including of course the Birth and 
Resurrection, have grown to their present form out of realities 
which contained no miracle, and which therefore differed 
essentially from the historical scriptures and faith of the 

It is no part of our task to enter upon such details. Nor 

264 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

is it necessary. The struggle against such a theory of Chris- 
tianity will not be fought out on details. It may be conceded 
that many of the miracles, taken singly, can easily be made 
to fall in with conjectural theories as to a mythical origin, if 
only the antecedent conviction against their reality as miracles 
be cogent enough really to require that the necessary force 
should be put upon the evidence. Some indeed may lend 
themselves to the process with a facility which fairly surprises 
us. Others seem still to be very obstinate, and force the 
rationalizer into strange hypotheses. But after all, the real 
question, through one and all, is not how easily this or that 
miracle can be made, by squeezing of evidence, to square with 
a rationalizing hypothesis ; but what is the strength of the 
argument for the rationalizing hypothesis itself, which is the 
warrant for squeezing the evidence at all. 

The Evangelists say that Jesus taught in the synagogue at 
Capernaum. Our author takes for granted that He did so. 
The Evangelists say that Jesus miraculously multiplied loaves 
and fishes in the wilderness. Our author takes for granted 
that He did not so. Now why this contrast 1 ? Incidentally, 
indeed, it may be remarked that on the author's own general 
method, this multiplication of loaves ought to be one of the 
most certain facts in the life of Christ, as it is emphasized in 
every Gospel. But this is by the way. The real ground of 
the contrast in the treatment of the same evidence is a certain 
prior conviction with which the evidence is approached. 
Now we are not contending that any such sifting of evidence 
in the light of prior tests is inadmissible. On the contrary, 
there is hardly anyone who does not, on a similar principle, 
explain the differences (for example) in the accounts of the 
title upon the Cross, or the difficulty as to whether Jesus 
healed one blind man or two, on the way into, or out from, 
Jericho ; but we do say that the admissibleness of such 
a method of interpreting absolutely depends upon the cer- 
tainty of the correctness of the prior conviction itself. 

The various details of ingenuity, then, with which he 
explains away particular incidents, are to us of quite sub- 
ordinate interest. Everything depends upon the cogency of 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 265 

the grounds for explaining away at all. A large part of the 
book is occupied in explaining away the facts of Christianity, 
as the Christian Church has hitherto understood them ; an 
explaining away which may be more or less necessary, more 
or less satisfactory, if the premisses which require it are once 
admitted ; but which certainly is wholly unnecessary, and 
wholly unsatisfactory, if those premisses are denied. 

The prior conviction in the book in question is that miracles 
neither do, nor did, happen in fact, and therefore that any 
narrative which involves them is incredible. All the ingenui- 
ties of conjecture on individual points become relevant subse- 
quently to, and in reliance upon, this underlying principle. 
Admit this, and they are forthwith interesting and valuable. 
Deny this, and they lose their importance at once. It is the 
pressure of this prior conviction which seems to give life and 
force to a number of suggestions, about other stories, and 
particularly about that of the Resurrection, which, apart from 
this animating conviction, would be felt to be very lifeless ; 
and to a total experiment of subjective reconstruction, which, 
but for the strength of the antecedent conviction, would have 
been impossible to men of reverent thought and modest 
utterance. The teaching of the book will therefore really be 
accepted or the reverse, precisely according as the minds of 
its readers do, or do not, incline to admit the hypothesis upon 
which it depends. 

It is probable, indeed, that the author would demur to this 
statement, at least when put so simply ; on the ground that, 
though he avows the conviction, yet he has reached the con- 
viction itself by no a priori road, but as the result of wide 
observation and unprejudiced scrutiny of evidence. Now it 
is not at all meant to be asserted that the conviction against 
miracle is itself reached merely by an a priori method. No 
doubt it has, in fact, been arrived at, in those minds which 
have fully arrived at it, not a priori, but as the result of 
a great induction from experience ; practically indeed, as it 
seems to them, from experience as good as universal. The 
weight of the evidence in this direction is neither denied nor 
forgotten. Yet even when it most impresses us, of course it 

266 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

is obvious still to reply to ourselves that however powerful 
this array of experience may appear so long as there are no 
instances to the contrary, yet any one contrary instance will 
break at once the cogency of the induction. The case of 
Jesus Christ is put forward as being unique. Its uniqueness 
is not really qualified by the fact that some others, among 
those nearest to Himself, were by Him enabled avowedly in 
His power, not their own, to do acts which were impossible 
to other men. This is only a wider extension of His unique 
power, not a qualification of it. Against such a case, put for- 
ward on evidence definite and multiform, and put forward as 
essentially unique, an argument from induction is no argu- 
ment at all. It is a misnomer to call the induction an argu- 
ment. The induction, in fact, is merely an observation that 
other persons did not perform similar miracles ; and that, if 
Jesus Christ did so, He was unique. But this is no answer 
to the Christian position. It is part of the position itself. 

And so the matter must be referred for settlement to the 
evidence that is actually forthcoming about Jesus Christ. But 
it is plain that the inductive presumption against miracle, 
derived from experience of other men, must not come in to 
warp or rule this evidence. It may be present indeed as 
a sort of cross-examining counsel, as a consideration requiring 
that the evidence should be most minutely scrutinized, and 
suggesting all sorts of questions with a view to this. But 
into the evidence itself, it cannot be permitted to intrude. 

Now, it is part of our complaint against such writers as the 
author of The Kernel and the Husk, that however much 
their general presumption against miracle may have been 
inductively and patiently reached ; yet when they come to 
deal with the evidence about Jesus Christ, this conviction 
(which ought to stand on one side inquiringly) becomes 
to them an underlying postulate ; it is settled beforehand ; 
it is present with them in their exegesis, not simply as a 
motive for sifting the evidence carefully, but as a touchstone 
of truth by which it may all be tried. Probably the author 
would believe that he has reached his conviction against the 
miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, not merely from a general 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 267 

induction as to the absence of miracle in the lives of others, 
but also from an unprejudiced scrutiny of the evidence of the 
life of Jesus Christ Himself. But this is just what we are 
not at all prepared to concede. On the contrary, we main- 
tain that his scrutiny is wholly prejudiced. Examine the 
evidence with a bias sufficiently powerful against belief in 
miracle ; and you may end in the result which this author 
reaches. Examine it without such a bias ; and you will find 
yourself at every turn protesting against his mode of treating 
the evidence. It is a scrutiny of the evidence on the basis of 
the inadmissibleness of miracles, which gives him that coherent 
theory about the growth of the Christian tradition, and those 
consequent principles of interpretation of the text of the 
Gospels, which he appears to regard as the simple result of 
the evidence itself. 

We shall very likely be surprised to find that, after all, the 
abstract impossibility of miracle is not laid down, nay, is 
expressly disclaimed, by him. Miracle (if we rightly under- 
stand) is not impossible absolutely, not even, he adds, a 
priori improbable ; yet it is equivalent to an impossibility, 
because the will of the Father indwelt wholly in Jesus, and 
because the perfect uniformity of natural processes as we 
have experienced them, is, in fact, and with no exceptions, 
the will of the Father 1 . No general reflections upon our 
dependence, in ordinary life, on the good faith of an uni- 
form nature, ought to blind us to the fact that this last 
position neither has, nor can have, any adequate ground at 
all. It is surprising that with so weak a statement of the 
impossibility of miracle, the principle of the impossibility of 
miracle should have to bear the extraordinary weight that 
is put upon it. Nothing short of a demonstration of this 
impossibility would fully justify the critical position that is 
adopted. For it is, in fact, upon this impossibility that the 
whole re-reading of the history is based. 

It is probably true that if once the hypothesis of the im- 
possibility of miracle be accepted as practically certain, an 
earnest mind, penetrated with this as its overruling principle, 

1 See especially the concluding paragraphs of letter xix. 

268 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and dwelling upon the Gospels always and only in the light 
of this, will be compelled gradually to re-read in one place 
and re-interpret in another, until the whole has been, by 
steps that upon the hypothesis were irresistible, metamor- 
phosed into a form as unlike as possible, indeed, to what it 
wore at first, but still one which can be felt to be precious 
and beautiful. But we are entitled to point out how abso- 
lutely this re-reading of the evidence depends upon the truth 
of the principle which underlies it. For the sake of this, 
all sorts of violence has to be done to what would otherwise 
be, in one incident after another, the obvious meaning of 
words, the obvious outcome of evidence. Without the cer- 
tainty of this, the new method of reading must be critically 
condemned as baseless and arbitrary. This alone makes it 
rationally possible. Without the strong cogency of this it 
falls instantly to pieces. 

Now orthodox Christians are sometimes accused of reading 
their historical evidence in the light of a preconception. They 
begin with the doctrine of the Creed, and read all records 
of fact with the conviction of that doctrine in their hearts 
and consciences. We need not be altogether concerned to 
combat this statement. Perhaps few records are read, or 
would ever be read intelligently, except in the light of the 
reader's preconceptions. But our point is to see clearly that 
at all events the new reading of the Gospel history is itself 
so entirely the outcome and creature of its antecedent prin- 
ciple, that it cannot without that hold together for an instant. 

Let us be content, for the moment, to view the orthodox 
Christian and the new rationalist as both alike really reading 
the Gospel narrative in the light of a preconceived principle ; 
the one viewing everything on the basis of the perfect 
Divinity of the historical Jesus Christ (with the corollary 
that it is impossible for us to determine d priori what power 
His perfect Humanity for which we have no precedent 
would, or would not. naturally and necessarily exhibit) ; the 
other viewing everything on the basis of the absolute im- 
possibility, or at least the incredibleness, of miracle. We 
might point out that the former in his hypothesis has a 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 269 

principle which absolutely fits and perfectly accounts for 
every part of the evidence which confronts him ; while the 
latter is compelled, by the cogency of his principle, to recon- 
struct for himself almost every chapter of the evidence. And 
if we go one step further back, and ask, what is the antecedent 
reasonableness of the one hypothesis, or of the other 1 ? from 
what source is each derived 1 ? We must claim it as simple 
fact, that the former hypothesis is itself the direct outcome 
of the evidence, the inevitable outcome, indeed, so long as 
the evidence stands: while the other is, at bottom, an as- 
sumption, held absolutely in the teeth of the evidence actually 
existing in respect of the life and consciousness of Jesus of 
Nazareth, and itself on other grounds not merely unproved, 
but essentially incapable of proof l . 

But if our hypothesis is itself the outcome of the evidence, 
and fits with perfect exactness into all its intricacies, then 
we yield far too much if we treat it as on the level of a mere 
preconception. To persist in reading the New Testament by 
the light of the preconception of the dogma of Christ's God- 
head (with the corollary that no miracle is incredible as 
miracle), is to be prejudiced only in the same sense in which 
the scientist is prejudiced who persists in studying the 
records of astronomy in the light of certain preconceptions 
as to the parabola or the law of gravitation. 

But what is the case with the other hypothesis? By it 
the historical Jesus Christ is swept away ; and another per- 
sonality, which does not exist in the history at all, but which 
the history has suggested to certain earnest-minded critics of 
our own day, is substituted in His place. All those who 
witnessed of His words and deeds to the Church, all those 
whose witness the Church has accepted and sealed, are 
thoroughly mistaken, mistaken in the very points which to 
them were fundamental. However honest they may have been 
in their superstitious ignorance, they certainly bore to the world 
what was, in fact, false testimony. It is impressive, with a 

1 'The question of miracles seeing fessor Huxley as of the Duke of 

now to be admitted on all hands to Argyll. Nineteenth Century, April 1887, 

be simply a question of evidence.' p. 483: cp. Feb. 1887, pp. 201, etc. 
These are the words as much of Pro- 

270 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

strange impressiveness, to follow this hypothesis through the 
story of Christ's life ; and see with what ingenuity, often 
plausible, often pathetic, the old facts are refashioned to meet 
the new principle. 

Cardinal, of course, in difficulty as in importance, is the 
narrative of the Resurrection ; that plain statement of fact, 
to testify whereto was the primary qualification, and primary 
function, of Apostleship ; and which, from S. Peter and 
S. Paul downwards, has always been recognised as cardinal 
to the faith of the Church. 

Now given ; first, the certain conviction that no miracle 
occurred ; and secondly, a working hypothesis as to the 
growth of the Christian Scriptures, which not only enables, 
but requires, you to set aside, on grounds of subjective 
criticism, all such evidence as seems to you to be improbable ; 
and it follows that, if you are still of a very religious mind, 
you will probably have to take refuge in what may yet be 
to you the beautiful story of a Resurrection exclusively 

You must, of course, deal very violently with the direct 
evidence. But that is already covered by the general theory 
you have reached as to the historical genesis and value (or 
lack of value) of the books of the New Testament. And, of 
course, in adopting such a view of the books of the New 
Testament, you are reducing to a phantasm the reality of 
your belief in the Holy Catholic Church, which has enshrined 
and consecrated, as perfectest truth, what are really at best 
only fables, capable, indeed, of clumsily representing the 
truth to the childish or the stupid, but beginning to be abso- 
lutely pernicious to minds which have reached a certain point 
of intelligent education. 

Tolerating these things, however, you may admit the truth 
of the Resurrection (as you may admit every proposition of 
the Creed) in words ; only in a sense so refined, so exclu- 
sively spiritual, that no bodily reality of resurrection is left. 
There is no resurrection in y^our creed correlative to the 
dying. There is no resurrection more, or more demonstrable, 
than what we believe to be true of men in general. There 

vi. The Incarnation as the basis of Dogma. 271 

is no resurrection which enters within the ordinary sphere 
of human history, or admits any direct contact with the 
normal methods of human evidence or human proof. The 
question raised is not whether current imaginations of the 
Resurrection may possibly be more or less exaggerated in 
the way of materialism, but whether there was any corporeal 
reality of resurrection at all. And the question is settled in 
the negative. The foundation fact of the Creed is etherealized 
away ; and all the rest, with it, becomes together impalpable 
and subjective. 

We do not say that there is not a large element which is 
true, in the thought of such a writer as we have been con- 
sidering. Where the mind is so devoutly in earnest, it is no 
hard task to believe that it too must be animated originally 
by truth. We need not say, therefore, that the work of this 
earnestness may not serve us all, and contribute to the 
thought of us all. It may well be true that in our bald 
understanding of the doctrine of the Resurrection, or indeed 
of the whole Incarnation, from beginning to end. we have, 
many of us, too little imagined the scope and depth of its 
spiritual import. If our orthodoxy has been so well content 
with insisting mechanically upon the literal fact, as not only 
to forget, but to disdain or disown in any measure, the vast 
spiritual realities which it ought to express to us ; then our 
stupidity, or narrowness, in orthodoxy, is in part to blame, 
for the distaste which they have created towards orthodoxy 
in some natures more sensitive than our own. In so far as 
they can, in this respect, return good for evil, we will not 
be slow to acknowledge our debt to them. We will be grate- 
ful for any new suggestion they can discover, as to the moral 
beauty or import of the Resurrection, or of the Incarnation, 
or of any or every other miracle, considered upon its moral 
side as allegory. Some ways at least there may be, in which 
their insistance may tend to deepen for us our understanding 
of truths, whose more spiritual aspects we had dwelt upon 
perhaps, in some cases, perhaps had even imagined, far 
too little. But doubtless that true element of their work, 
which the mind of the Catholic Church will assimilate, will 

272 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

be greatly modified from the form in which it now presents 
itself to them as to others. It will, to say the least, be 
positive rather than negative ; stimulating spiritual sensi- 
bilities, but not by explaining away the facts of the body ; 
widening (it may be) our insight into the divineness of history, 
and the depth of the meaning of certain events which hap- 
pened in it, but not shattering both it and them, by dis- 
solving their historical truth. 

Meanwhile of the one-sided aspect we can but say that no 
doubt transcendental spiritualism has a great attractiveness. 
The Magian aspiration always was fascinating. Individuals, 
indeed, of enthusiastic sympathies, trained themselves in dog- 
matic truth, and indulging their freest speculations always on 
a background of inveterate dogmatic instinct, may fancy the 
' spiritualized Christianity ' to be in itself a stable and a 
living completeness ; but as a system, it will neither produce 
life nor perpetuate it. It is an attempt to improve upon the 
Church of Christ, upon the conditions of human nature, upon 
the facts of history. The Church of Christ is not so. The 
Church of Christ does not ignore the fundamental conditions 
of human experience. The Church of Christ is balanced, 
harmonious, all-embracing, all-adjusting. The Incarnation 
was the sanctifying of both parts of human nature, not the 
abolition of either. The Church, the Sacraments, human 
nature, Jesus Christ Himself, all are twofold ; all are earthly 
objective, as well as transcendental spiritual. And so long 
as this world is real as well as the next ; so long as man is 
body as well as soul ; so long all attempts to evaporate the 
body and its realities are foredoomed to a necessary and a 
salutary failure. The religion, which attempts to be rid of 
the bodily side of things spiritual, sooner or later loses hold 
of all reality. Pure spiritualism, however noble the aspira- 
tion, however living the energy with which it starts, always 
has ended at last, and will always end, in evanescence. 






I. THEOLOGICAL doctrine, describing, as it professes to do, 
the dealings of an all-wise Person with the human race, must 
be a consistent whole, each part of which reflects the oneness 
of the will on which it is based. What we call particular 
doctrines are in reality only various applications to various 
human conditions of one great uniform method of Divine 
government, which is the expression in human affairs of one 
Divine will. The theological statement of any part of this 
method ought to bear on its face the marks of the whole from 
which it is temporarily separated ; for though it may be neces- 
sary to make now this, now that doctrine prominent, to isolate 
it and lay stress on it, this should be done in such a way that 
in each special truth the whole should, in a manner, be con- 
tained. We must be able to trace out in each the lines of the 
Divine action which is only fully displayed in the whole. 
Neglect of this not only makes our faith as a whole weak 
and incoherent, but deprives the doctrines themselves of the 
illumination and strength which are afforded by the discovery 
in them of mutual likeness and harmony. They become first 
unintelligible and then inconceivable, and the revelation of the 
character of God, which should be perceived in every part ot 
His dealings with men, becomes confused and dim to us. 
This has been especially the case with the Atonement. In 
the course of religious controversy this doctrine has become 
separated from the rest, at one time neglected, at another over 
emphasized, till in its isolation it has been so stated as to be 
almost incredible. Men could not indeed be brought to dis- 
believe in forgiveness, however attained, and the conviction of 
remission of sins through and in the Blood of Christ has sur- 

T 2 

276 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

vived all the theories which have been framed to account for 
it ; but nevertheless, the unreality of these theories has been a 
disaster to the Christian faith. Some of them have strained 
our belief in the moral attributes of God, others have given 
men easy thoughts of sin and its consequences. This has been 
so because they have treated the Atonement apart from the 
whole body of facts which make up the Christian conception 
of God and His dealings with men. In this essay the attempt 
will be made to present the doctrine in its relation to the 
other great Christian truths : to the doctrines, that is, of God, 
of the Incarnation, of sin. 

(i) On the human side the fact with which we have to deal 
is the fact of sin. Of this conception the Bible, the most com- 
plete record of the religious history of man, is full from the 
first page to the last. Throughout the whole course of Jewish 
development, the idea that man has offended the justice of 
God was one of the abiding elements in the religious conscious- 
ness of the race. But it was by no means confined to the Jews. 
They have been truly called the conservators of the idea of 
sin ; but it has never been permanently absent, in some form 
or other, from the human mind, although we learn most about 
it, and can see it in its clearest, most intense form, in the 
Hebrew religion. Now this conception of sin in its effect on 
the human soul is of a twofold character. Sin is felt to be 
alienation from God, Who is the source of life, and strength, 
and peace, and in consequence of that alienation the whole 
nature is weakened and corrupted. In this aspect sin is 
a state in which the will is separated from the Divine will, 
the life is cut off from the life of God which He designed us 
to share. When men come to realize what is meant by union 
with God, and to feel the awful consequences of separation, 
there arises at once the longing for a return, a reconcilia- 
tion ; but this longing has by itself no power to effect so great 
a change. To pass from alienation to union is to pass from 
darkness to light, from evil to good, and can only be accom- 
plished by that very power, the power of a life united to God, 
which has been forfeited by sin. Only in union with God 
can man accomplish anything that is good ; and, therefore, so 

vii. The Atonement. 277 

long as he is alienated from God, he can only long for, he can- 
not obtain, his reunion with the Divine life. Sin therefore, 
thus considered, is not only wickedness ; it is also misery and 
hopelessness. Sinners are ' without God in the world,' and 
for that reason they ' have no hope.' 

This is the aspect of sin as a state of the sinful soul, and 
as affecting the present relation between man and God. It 
has destroyed the union, has broken down even the sacrificial 
bridge, for it has made all acceptable offerings impossible. 
Man's will is weakened, therefore he has not strength to offer 
himself completely and unreservedly to God ; his nature is 
corrupted and stained, therefore his offering, could he make 
it, could not be accepted. Sin is a hopeless state of weak- 
ness and uncleanness. But there is another, in one sense an 
earlier, more fundamental aspect of sin. The sins of the past 
have produced not merely weakness and corruption, but also 
guilt. The sinner feels himself guilty before God. If we 
examine the idea of guilt, as realized by the conscience, it 
will be seen to contain the belief in an external power, or 
law, or person against whom the offence has been committed, 
and also an internal feeling, the acknowledgment of ill-desert, 
a sense of being under sentence, and that justly. Whether 
the punishment which is felt to be the due reward of the 
offence has been borne or not, the conception of punishment, 
when the offence has been committed, cannot be avoided, 
and it brings with it a conviction of its justice. These 
two elements, the external and the internal element, seem 
to be necessary to the full conception of guilt. The common 
fallacy that a self-indulgent sinner is no one's enemy but his 
own would, were it true, involve the further inference that 
such a sinner would not feel himself guilty. But it is pre- 
cisely because the consciousness of sin does not and cannot 
stop here that, over and above any injury to self, any weak- 
ness or even corruption produced by sin, we speak of its guilt. 
' Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which 
is evil in Thy sight.' This belief in an external power, whose 
condemnation has been incurred by sin, may take various 
forms ; for the power may be represented as impersonal or as 

278 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

personal, as law or as God. For our present purposes, how- 
ever, the distinction is immaterial : the essential point is that 
it is something external to ourselves, not merely the echo of 
the sinner's own self-inflicted pain and injury. We cannot, 
however, limit it to this. For it is not merely an external 
power, it is also a just power that is presented to the sense 
of guilt. Before bare power, unrighteous or non-moral, an 
offender may be compelled to submit, but he will not feel 
guilt. The state of mind expressed by Mill's well-known 
defiance is his who has offended a superior power which he 
cannot believe to be just, and it is very far removed from the 
feeling of guiltiness *. The sense of guilt implies the right- 
eousness as well as the power of that against which we have 
offended ; it is a moral conviction. Guiltiness, then, regarded 
in one aspect is the sense of sin, in another it is the recogni- 
tion of the law of righteousness, or, if we may now assume 
the religious point of view, it is the conviction of the wrath 
of God against sin. 

It is plain, if we will only scrutinise closely and candidly 
the conception of sin and guilt, that no merely ' subjective' 
explanation will account for the facts revealed by our con- 
sciousness. Even if we had no scriptural evidence to guide 
us, the evidence, that is, to take it at the lowest, of a series 
of specially qualified witnesses to religious phenomena, our 
own hearts would tell us of the wrath of God against sin. 
It is irresistibly felt that there is a Power hostile to sin, and 
that this Power has decreed a righteous punishment for the 
offences which are the external signs and results of the sinful 
state. Whatever the punishment may be, a question we need 
not now discuss, the sinner's conscience warns him of it. He 
may apparently, or for a time, escape it; but it is none the 
less felt to be the fitting expression of Divine wrath, the 
righteous manifestation of the hostility of God's nature to 
sin and all its consequences. Guilt, then, like sin, has its 
twofold character. It is the belief in an external hostility to 

1 Mill, Examination of Sir W. epithet to my fellow-creatures ; and 

Hamilton's Philosophy, p. 103. 'I if such a being can sentence me to 

will call no being good, who is not hell for not so calling him, to hell 

what I mean when I apply that I will go.' 

vii. The Atonement. 279 

sin expressing itself in punishment, and also the conviction 
that such punishment is righteous and just. Thus, when once 
God is recognised as the offended Person, the acknowledgment 
of the righteousness of His judgment follows. ' Against Thee, 
Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy 
sight ; that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, 
and be clear when Thou judgest.' 

(2) Corresponding to the sense of sin in its twofold aspect 
we find, not only in the Mosaic system or in the scriptural 
history, but almost universally established, the system of 
sacrifice. It is not necessary to maintain that sacrifice, in 
its essential idea, was intended to express the consciousness 
of sin. Rather, it seems to be, essentially, the expression 
of the very opposite of sin, of that relation of man to 
God which sin destroyed l . It is sometimes said that sacri- 
fice is the recognition of God's sovereignty, the tribute paid 
by His subjects. This is, of course, a necessary element 
in the conception of sacrifice, for God is our King ; but it 
does not satisfy the whole consciousness which man has of 
his original relation to God. That is a relation, not of sub- 
jection only, but of union at least as close as that of sons 
to a Father, a union whereby we derive life from His life, 
and render back absolute unquestioning love to Him. Sacri- 
fice is, in its highest, original meaning, the outward expres- 
sion of this love. As human love naturally takes outward 
form in gifts, and the closer, the more fervent it is, makes 
those gifts more and more personal, till at last it wholly 
gives itself ; so sacrifice should be the recognition of our 
union with God, an expression of our love for Him, giving 
Him all that we have and all that we are. Submission, 
reverence, love are the original feelings which sacrifice 
was intended to represent ; and it may be called, therefore, 
the expression of man's relations to God in their purest form, 
unmarred and unbroken by sin. But this is only the original, 
ideal meaning, for with the intrusion of sin another element 
appears in sacrifice ; and men attempt, by their offerings, to 
expiate their offences, to cover their sins, to wipe out their 

1 Cf. Holland, Logic and Life, pp. 107, 108. 

280 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

guilt, to propitiate Divine wrath. But though this new ele- 
ment is introduced, the original intention is not altogether 
lost. The union has been destroyed by sin, but even in the 
sin-offerings under the Law there was expressed the endeavour 
to regain it, to enter once more into living relations with 
God: while the normal sacrifices of the congregation went 
beyond this, and represented the exercise of a right based 
on union with God, the presentation of the people before 
Him. Thus we must recognise in the Mosaic sacrifices the 
most complete and typical form of the sacrificial idea the 
twofold aspect which corresponds to the twofold effect of 
sin on the human race. There is the offering, sometimes the 
bloodless offering, by which was typified simply man's de- 
pendence on God, his submission to Him, his life derived 
from Him and therefore rendered back to Him. From this 
point of view the sacrifice culminated, not in the slaying and 
offering of the victim, but in the sprinkling of the blood, 
the ' principle of life,' upon the altar. The priestly mediators 
brought the blood, which 'maketh atonement by reason of 
the life,' before God, and sprinkled it upon the altar, in order 
that the lost union with God in the covenant might be re- 
stored, and life once more derived from God as it had been 
offered to Him. The whole system was indeed only partial, 
temporary, external. The Mosaic sacrifices ' sanctified unto 
the cleanness of the flesh,' they did not ' cleanse the conscience 
from dead works to serve the living God.' So the restoration 
which the special sin-offerings accomplished was merely ex- 
ternal and temporary, the reunion of the offender with the 
congregation of Israel from which his fault had separated 
him. But as this excommunication symbolised the loss, 
brought about by sin, of life with God, so the reunion with 
the congregation typified the reunion of the sinner with 
God. As a system, then, the Mosaic sacrifices both corres- 
ponded to a deep desire of the human heart, the desire to 
recover the lost relation to the Divine life, and also by their 
imperfection pointed forward to a time when, by means of 
a more perfect offering, that restoration should be complete, 
accomplished once for all, and eternal. This is one aspect of 

vii. The Atonement. 281 

the sacrificial system. But before this typical restoration of 
life, there came the mysterious act which corresponded to the 
sense of guilt. Leaving aside the lesser offerings of the shew- 
bread and the incense, it may be said generally that in every 
sacrifice the slaying of a victim was a necessary element. 
And there is deep significance in the manner in which the 
slaying was performed. The hands of the offerer laid upon 
the victim's head denoted, according to the unvarying use of 
the Old Testament, the representative character of the animal 
offered, and thus the victim was, so to speak, laden with the 
guilt of him who sought for pardon and reconciliation. The 
victim was then slain by the offerer himself, and the death 
thus became an acknowledgment of the justice of God's 
punishments for sin : it was as if the offerer declared, ' This 
representative of my guilt I here, by my own act, doom to 
death, in satisfaction of the righteous law of vengeance 
against sin, for " the soul that sinneth it shall die." ] It was 
not, therefore, till the sense of personal guilt had been ex- 
pressed by the act which constituted the victim a repre- 
sentative of the offerer, and by the slaying which typified 
the need of expiation by suffering for sin, that the sacrifice 
was fit to be presented before God by the mediation of the 
priest, and the blood, 'the life which had willingly passed 
through death 1 / could be sprinkled as a token of restored 
life in God. A careful study of the Mosaic sacrifices will 
shew the twofold character impressed upon them. Both 
aspects are necessary, they may even be described as two 
sides of the same fact. Before God can be approached by 
a sinner he must expiate his sin by suffering, must perfectly 
satisfy the demands of the law, must atone for the past which 
has loaded him with guilt : and then, as part of the same 
series of acts, the life so sacrificed, so purified by the expiatory 
death, is accepted by God, and being restored from Him, be- 
comes the symbol and the means of union with Him. For- 
giveness for the past, cleansing in the present, hope for the 
future, are thus united in one great symbolic ceremony. 

The Mosaic system was only external, ' sanctifying unto the 

1 Milligan, TJie Resurrection, p. 278. 

282 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

cleanness of the flesh ' ; partial, for it provided no expiation for 
the graver moral transgressions ; temporary, for the sacrifices 
had to be repeated ' day by day ' ; provisional, for ' if there was 
perfection through the Levitical priesthood . . . what further 
need was there that another priest should arise after the order 
of Melchizedek 1 ' In spite, however, of these obvious defects 
and limitations in the Mosaic system, there was a constant 
tendency among the Jews to rest content with it, to rely upon 
the efficacy of these external sacrifices and ceremonies for 
their whole religion, to believe that ' the blood of bulls and 
goats ' could ' put away sin,' and that no inner spiritual re- 
pentance or renovation was required. And the highest minds 
of the nation, represented by the prophets, were keenly alive 
to this danger : their rebukes and remonstrances shew how 
strongly they felt the imperfection of the sacrificial system, 
how it failed to satisfy the really religious cravings of spiritual 
minds. Yet there it was, divinely ordained, clearly necessary 
as the expression of the national religious life, profoundly 
significant. It could not be dispensed with, yet it could not 
satisfy : in its incompleteness, as well as in its symbolism, it 
pointed forward, and foreshadowed a perfect expiation. 

(3) This examination of the sacrificial system of the Old Tes- 
tament is necessary in a discussion of the doctrine of the Atone- 
ment, for several reasons. The institutions of the Law were, 
in the first place, ordained by God, and therefore intended to 
reveal in some degree His purposes, His mind towards man. 
We thus find in them traces of the fuller revelation which 
came afterwards, and the two dispensations throw light on 
each other. Then again, it was from the Law that the Jews 
derived their religious language : their conceptions of sacrifice, 
of atonement, of the effects of sin, were moulded by the in- 
fluence of the Mosaic ceremonies. For this reason the apostolic 
doctrine of the Atonement must be looked at in connection 
with the ideas inspired by the Law, although, of course, the life 
and work of our Lord so enlarged the religious conceptions of the 
Apostles as to constitute a fresh revelation. But it was a revela- 
tion on the lines, so to speak, of the old ; it took up and con- 
tinued the ideas implanted by the Mosaic religion, and displayed 

vii. The Atonement. 283 

the fulfilment of the earlier promises and forecasts. It is, 
therefore, from the Old Testament that we have to learn the 
vocabulary of the apostolic writings. As the Messianic hopes 
and phraseology throw light upon the apostolic conception 
of the Kingdom of Christ, so the sacrificial ceremonies and 
language of the Law throw light upon the apostolic con- 
ception of the Sacrifice, the Atonement of Christ. But this 
is not all. The Mosaic institutions, in their general outlines, 
were no arbitrary and artificial symbols, but corresponded to 
religious feelings, needs, aspirations that may truly be called 
natural and universal. This conception of sin in its twofold 
aspect of alienation and of guilt, and this idea of sacrifice as 
effecting man's restoration to union with God, and also as 
expiating his guilt by suffering, correspond to what the human 
conscience, when deeply and sincerely investigated, declares to 
be its inmost secret. Every man who has once realized sin, 
can also realize the feelings of the Jew who longed to make an 
expiation for the guilt of the past, to suffer some loss, some 
penalty that would cover his sin, and who therefore brought 
his offering before God, made the unconscious victim his re- 
presentative, the bearer of his guilt, and by slaying it strove 
to make atonement. We feel the same need, the same longing. 
This load of guilt has to be laid down somehow : this past 
sinfulness must meet with a punishment which will make ex- 
piation for it : before this lost union with God can be restored 
we must be assured of pardon, must know that the wrath of 
God no longer abides on us, but has been turned away, and 
finds no longer in us the sin which is the one obstacle to the 
free course of Divine love. And then we know further that 
bitter truth which came to the loftiest minds among the Jews, 
that no sacrifice of ours can have atoning value, for God 
demands the offering of ourselves, and we are so weakened by 
sin that we cannot give ourselves up to Him, so polluted by 
sin that we cannot be well-pleasing in His eyes. In order to 
atone, sacrifice must be no outward ceremony, the offering of 
this or that possession, the fulfilment of this or that externally- 
imposed ordinance, but the entire surrender of self to God, and 
to His law, a surrender dictated from within by the free 

284 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

impulse of the will. Therefore, just as the spiritually-minded 
Jew felt the continual discrepancy between the external 
ceremonies which he was bound to fulfil, and the complete 
submission to the will of God which they could not effect, 
and without which they were wholly inadequate, so every 
awakened conscience must feel the fruitlessness of any out- 
ward expression of devotion and obedience so long as there 
is no complete sacrifice of self. 

These, then, seem to be the conditions which must be 
satisfied before an atonement can meet the needs of the 
human heart and conscience, whether these are inferred from 
an examination of the Hebrew religious institutions or are 
gathered from our own knowledge of ourselves and of others. 
There is, first of all, the consciousness of guilt, of an offended 
God, of a law transgressed, of punishment impending, to 
expiate which some sacrifice is necessary, but no sacrifice 
adequate to which can be offered by us as we are. Pro- 
pitiation is the first demand of the law, and we cannot, 
of ourselves, propitiate Him whose anger we have righteously 
incurred. Secondly, we long for an abiding union with 
Him, and for the full bestowal of the Divine life which 
results from that union alone. Propitiation is not enough 
by itself, though propitiation is the necessary first step in 
the process of reconciliation. Aliens, by our own sinful acts, 
and by the sin of our forefathers, from the life of God, we 
yet long to return and to live once more in Him. But this is 
equally impossible for us to accomplish of ourselves. By sin 
we have exiled ourselves, but we cannot return by mere force of 
will. Both as propitiation, therefore, and as reunion, the Atone- 
ment must come from without and cannot be accomplished 
by those who themselves have need of it. But there is a 
third condition, apparently irreconcileable with the other two. 
This same consciousness of guilt which demands an expiation 
demands that it shall be personal, the satisfaction of the sense 
of personal responsibility, and of the unconquerable conviction 
of our own freedom. The propitiatory sacrifice which is to 
effect our reunion must, for we are powerless to offer it, come 
from without : but at the same time we cannot but feel that 

vii. The Atonement. 285 

it must come into contact with the will, it must be the inward 
sacrifice, the freewill offering of the whole nature that has 

II. If the redemptive work of Christ satisfies these conditions 
it is evident that it is not a simple, but a very complex fact. 
The fault of many of the theories of the Atonement has been that, 
though none of them failed to be partially true, they were 
limited to one or other of the various aspects which that 
mysterious fact presents. It is certain, again, that of this com- 
plex fact no adequate explanation can be given. At every 
stage in the process which is generally summed up in the one 
word Atonement we are in presence of forces which issue from 
infinity and pass out of our sight even while we are contem- 
plating their effects. And even if the Atonement could be 
altogether reduced, so to speak, to terms of human experience, 
it will be shewn that man's forgiveness, the nearest analogy 
of which we have any knowledge, is an experience of which 
no logical explanation can be given, which seems to share, 
indeed, something of the mystery of its Divine antitype. 
But though it is almost blasphemous to pretend to fathom 
the depth of the Atonement, to lay out the whole truth so as 
to satisfy the formulae of human reason, it is necessary so to 
understand it as to discern its response to the imperative 
demands of the sense of sin and the desire for forgiveness. 
Whatever the ultimate mysteries of the death of Christ may 
be, it is certain that it has had power to convince men of 
forgiveness and to give them a new life. It must therefore in 
some way satisfy the conditions which, as we have seen, are 
laid down by human consciousness and experience. It is 
under the threefold aspect required by those conditions that 
the doctrine of the Atonement will be here presented. 

i. The death of Christ is, in the first place, to be regarded 
as propitiatory. On the one hand there is man's desire, 
natural and almost instinctive, to make expiation for his 
guilt : on the other there is the tremendous fact of the wrath 
of God against sin. The death of Christ is the expiation for 
those past sins which have laid the burden of guilt upon the 
human soul, and it is also the propitiation of the wrath of 

286 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

God. As we have seen, over against the sense of sin and of 
liability to the Divine wrath there has always existed the 
idea of sacrifice by which that wrath might be averted. Man 
could not offer an acceptable sacrifice : it has been offered for 
him by Christ. That is the simplest, and it would seem the 
most scriptural way of stating the central truth, which is also 
the deepest mystery, of the Atonement, and it seems to sum 
up and include the various other metaphors and descriptions 
of the redemptive work of Christ. But its mere statement at 
once suggests questions, the consideration of which will lead 
to a fuller understanding of the doctrine. Thus we have to ask, 
What is it which is propitiated by Christ's death ? In other 
words, What is meant by the wrath of God against sin "? 

(a) It should be remembered that though there is great danger 
in anthropomorphism, and though most of the superstition 
which has ever been the shadow cast by religion on the 
world has arisen from an exaggerated conception of the like- 
ness of God to ourselves, yet there is, after all, no other way 
of knowing God than by representing Him under conceptions 
formed by our own consciousness and experience, and this 
method is pre-eminently incumbent upon us who believe 
that man is made ' in the image of God.' We are certain, 
for instance, that love, pity, justice, are affections which, 
however imperfectly they may be found in us, do make for 
goodness, and if we may not ascribe these same affections, 
infinitely raised and purified, to God, we have no means of 
conceiving His character, of knowing ' with whom we have 
to deal.' 

Our knowledge, even of ourselves, is after all frag- 
mentary 1 , and thus truths of whose certainty we are con- 
vinced may seem irreconcileably opposed to each other. 
Our conception of love, for example, is a fragment, and 
we cannot trace it up to the meeting-point at which it is 
reconciled with justice, so that in our moral judgments we 

1 Cf. Mozley, University Sermons, p. indeed are they but great vistas and 

177 (2nd ed.) : 'Justice is a fragment, openings into an invisible world in 

mercy is a fragment, mediation is a which is the point of view which 

fragment ; justice, mercy, mediation brings them all together ? ' 
as a reason of mercy all three ; what 

vn. The Atonement. 287 

are continually oscillating, as it were, between the two. 

But this fact should not hinder us from ascribing to God 

in their fullest degree both love and justice, confident that in 

Him they are harmonized because we are confident from the 

verdict of our own consciences that both are good, and 

because even in such imperfect reflections of His image as, for 

instance, parental love, we see at least a partial harmony of them. 

When then a doubt arises as to the literal explanation of the 

phrase ' the wrath of God,' the difficulty must not be met by 

the simple assertion that we cannot reconcile the idea of 

wrath with that of the love of God: we must ask whether 

wrath, as it exists in us, is a good and righteous affection, or 

whether it is always and entirely evil. To this question 

there can be but one answer. We are conscious of a righteous 

anger, of an affection of displeasure that a good man ought to 

feel against sin and evil, and this is amply justified by the 

scriptural references to righteous anger, and by the accounts 

of our Lord's displays of indignation against evil. But though 

we are thus compelled to find room, so to speak, for anger in 

our conception of God's character, it is not therefore necessary 

to ascribe to Him that disturbance of the spiritual nature, or 

that change in the direction of the will, which are almost 

invariable accompaniments of human anger. These are the 

defects of the human affection, from which arises the sinful 

tendency in our anger, and which cannot be thought of in 

connection with the all-holy and all-wise God. On the 

other hand, it is not possible to limit the conception of the 

' wrath of God ' to the acts whereby sin is or will be punished, 

which was the explanation of some of the Fathers, or to think 

of it as in the future only, to come into existence only on 

the day of judgment, as has been attempted by some modern 

theologians. The scriptural expressions, including as we 

must the passages which speak of our Lord's anger, cannot 

be so weakened. ' The wrath of God ' seems to denote no 

changeful impulse or passing feeling, but the fixed and 

necessary hostility of the Divine Nature to sin ; and the 

idea must further include the manifestation of that hostility, 

whenever sin comes before God, in external acts of vengeance, 

288 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

punishment and destruction. God's anger is not only the 
displeasure of an offended Person : it is possible that this is 
altogether a wrong conception of it : it must be further the 
expression of justice, which not only hates but punishes 
The relation of the Divine Nature to sin is thus twofold : it 
is the personal hostility, if we may call it so, of holiness 
to sin, and it is also the righteousness which punishes sin 
because it is lawless. The two ideas are intimately con- 
nected, and not unfrequently, when we should have expected 
to find in the Bible the wrath of God spoken of, the language 
of judgment and righteousness is substituted for it. Sin is 
necessarily hateful to the holiness of God, but also, because 
sin is lawlessness, it is judged, condemned, and punished by 
Him in accordance with the immutable law of righteousness, 
which is the law of His own Nature. Therefore, to turn 
from God's wrath against sin to the mode in which that 
wrath may be averted, it results that the sacrifice offered for 
sin must be both a propitiation and a satisfaction. Anger, 
so we think, is but a feeling, and may be ousted by another 
feeling ; love can strive against wrath and overcome it ; the 
Divine hatred of sin need raise no obstacle to the free forgive- 
ness of the sinner. So we might think ; but a true ethical 
insight shews us that this affection of anger, of hatred, is in 
reality the expression of justice, and derives from the law of 
righteousness, which is not above God, nor is it dependent on 
His Will, for it is Himself. ' He cannot deny Himself ' ; He 
cannot put away His wrath, until the demands of Law have 
been satisfied, until the sacrifice has been offered to expiate, to 
cover, to atone for the sins of the world. The reconciliation 
to be effected is not merely the reconciliation of man to God 
by the change wrought in man's rebellious nature, but it is 
also the propitiation of God Himself, whose wrath unappeased 
and whose justice unsatisfied are the barriers thrown across 
the sinner's path to restoration. 

(6) But how, we ask further, was this propitiation made by 
the Sacrifice on the Cross ? Or, to put the question rather 
differently, what was it that gave to the death of Christ its 
propitiatory value ? In attempting to suggest an answer to 

vii. The Atonement. 289 

this question, it is necessary to bear in mind the distinction 
between the actual event, or series of events, which consti- 
tuted the Propitiatory Sacrifice, and that inner element which 
was thereby manifested, and which gave to the actual event 
its worth. S. Bernard expressed the distinction in the well- 
known words ' Not His death, but His willing acceptance of 
death, was pleasing to God/ and there can be no doubt that 
throughout the New Testament special stress is laid upon the 
perfect obedience manifested in the life and death of Christ, 
upon the accomplishment of His Father's will which He ever 
kept in view, and upon the contrast thus marked between the 
Mosaic sacrifices and the one atoning offering. ' Sacrifices 
and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin 
Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein . . . then 
hath He said, Lo, I am come to do Thy will.' 

That the perfect obedience displayed in the passion and 
death of our Lord was the element which gave to the sacrifice 
its propitiatory value will be more readily understood when it 
is remembered that the essence of man's sin was from the first 
disobedience, the rebellion of the human will against the 
commands of God. The perfect sacrifice was offered by One 
Who, being man with all man's liability to temptation, that is 
with all the instruments of sin at His disposal 1 , and exposed 
to every suggestion to set up His will against that of the 
Father, yet throughout His life continued unswervingly bent 
on doing ' not His own will, but the will of the Father Who 
sent Him,' and Who thus displayed the original perfection of 
human nature, the unbroken union with the life of God. 
On the cross the final struggle, the supreme temptation took 
place. The obedience shewn throughout His life was there 
manifested in death. ' He became obedient unto death, even 
the death of the cross.' At any moment of the passion 
a single acquiescence in evil, a single submission to the 
law of unrighteousness, a single swerving of His will from 
its choice of absolute obedience, would, we may believe, have 

1 Cf. Ch. Quarterly Review, xvi. p. 289 of human nature, everything that 
on ' Our Lord's Human Example.' man sins with, and therefore every 
' Christ, of course, had every faculty instrument or faculty of sin.' 

290 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

ended all the shame and torture. And therefore there was 
needed at every moment a real effort of His human will 
to keep itself in union with the will of God x ; it was not a 
mere submission at the outset once for all, but a con- 
tinuous series of voluntary acts of resignation and obedience. 
Here then is the spirit of sacrifice which God demands, 
and which could not be found in the sacrifices of the 
Mosaic law, or in any offering of sinful man. The essence 
of the Atonement was the mind of Christ therein displayed, 
the obedience gradually learnt and therein perfected, the will 
of Christ therein proved to be one with the Father's will. 

But we may discern a further element of propitiation in 
the death of our Lord. The law of righteousness, the justice 
of God, demands not only obedience in the present, but 
retribution for the past. ' The sins done aforetime ' had been 
' passed over in the forbearance of God ' for His own pur- 
poses, which are not revealed to us : this ' passing over ' had 
obscured the true nature of sin and of the Divine justice. 
Men had come to have easy thoughts of sin and its con- 
sequences ; the heathen felt but vaguely the burden of guilt, 
the Jew trusted in the mere external works of the law. In 
the death of Christ a manifestation was made of the right- 
eousness of God, of His wrath, the absolute hostility of His 
nature to sin. ' God set Him forth to be a propitiation, 
through faith, by His blood, to shew His righteousness, 
because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the 
forbearance of God.' But this manifestation of Divine justice 
might have been made by mere punishment: it became a 
propitiation, in that He, the self-chosen victim, by His 
acceptance of it, recognised the righteousness of the law 
which was vindicated on the cross. Men had refused to 
acknowledge God's justice in the consequences of sin ; nothing 

1 In the last two sentences a slight which could be amply justified by 

change has been made in conse- such a passage as e. g. S. Anselm, Cur 

quence of a criticism which showed Deus Homo, ii. 10, ' Possumus igitur 

that it was possible to misunderstand dicere de Christo quia potuit mentiri, 

the language originally employed, si subaudiatur, si vellet.' Cf. also 

which however was intended to con- [Boetius] c. Eutychen at Nestor turn, c. viii. 

vey precisely the same meaning, and (Opuscula Sacra, ed. Peifer, pp. 214 ff.) 

vii. The Atonement. 291 

but the willing acceptance of suffering, as the due portion of 
the human nature in which the sin was wrought, could have 

O * 

so declared the justice of God's law as to be a propitiation of 
Divine wrath. The cross was, on the one hand, the procla- 
mation of God's ordinance against sin, on the other it was 
the response of man at length acknowledging the righteous- 
ness of the condemnation 1 . 

But on looking more closely into the matter, it is obvious 
that these explanations are not by themselves enough to 
account for the scriptural facts which we call the Atonement. 
We cannot ignore that, whether we consider the Old Testa- 
ment anticipations, or the New Testament narrative of our 
Lord's work, His death, apart from the obedience manifested 
in it, occupies a unique place, and that stress is laid on it 
which would be unaccountable were it only the extreme trial 
of His obedience. The frequent declaration that it was 
necessary, that ' it behoved Christ to die,' seems to point to 
something exceptional in it, something more than the mere 
close of His spotless life. So again the mysterious dread and 
horror with which He looked forward to it testify to some- 
thing in it which goes far beyond any human experience of 
death 2 . And what we gather from the New Testament must 
be combined with the Old Testament premonitions of Christ's 
death, as typified by the Mosaic sacrifices. There can be no 
question that death was, speaking generally, an integral part 
of the idea of sacrifice for sin, and that the distinguishing 
ceremonial of the slaying of the victim points to a special 
significance in death as connected with expiation and 
propitiation. Therefore, although we may still recognise 
that it was the spirit of obedience and voluntary submission 

1 Cf. M c Leod Campbell, The Nature humanity to the judgment of God on the 

of the Atonement, pp. 117, 118, 119, 127, sin of man.' 'In Christ tasting death 

347 : ' That oneness of mind with the fas] the wages of sin . . . was a per- 

Father, which towards man took the fecting of the Divine response in 

form of condemnation of sin, would humanity to the Divine condemna- 

in the Son's dealing with the Father tion of sin.' 

in relation to our sins, take the form 2 See Dale, Atonement, pp. 49 if. ; 

of a perfect confession of our sins. Schmidt in Herzog's Heal. Encykl. xvi. 

This confession, as to its own nature, 403. 
must have been a perfect Amen in 

U 2 

292 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

which gave atoning value to the death of Christ, we cannot 
ignore the necessity of death as the appointed form which 
the obedience took. Had He not obeyed, He would not 
have atoned ; but had He noi> died, the obedience would 
have lacked just that element which made it an atonement 
for sin. The obedience was intended to issue in death. 
S. Bernard's saying, though true as he meant it, is, if taken 
quite literally, too sharp an antithesis. There is nothing well- 
pleasing to God in death alone, it is true ; but there is, so He 
has revealed it, something well-pleasing to His righteous- 
ness, something propitiatory in death, if as a further condition 
the perfect obedience of the victim is thereby displayed. 

We are driven to the same conclusion by the second 
explanation of our Lord's sacrifice given above. It is not 
enough to say that He died in order to manifest God's 
righteous judgment against sin, for the question remains, 
Why is death the requisite manifestation of judgment 1 ? If 
He endured it because it is the only fitting punishment, 
why is it in such a signal manner the penalty of sin ? We 
can point indeed to the Divine principle, ' The soul that 
sinneth, it shall die,' as we can point to God's declared will 
that expiation shall be made by means of death, but in 
neither case, whether death be looked upon as the punish- 
ment or as the expiation of sin, is there any explanation of its 
unique position. It may well be that here we are confronted 
by the final mystery, and that the propitiatory virtue of 
Christ's death, typified by the slaying of animal victims 
under the law, foreshadowed by the almost universal belief in 
the expiation of blood, acknowledged with wondering grati- 
tude by the human heart, depends upon the unsearchable will 
and hidden purposes of God, except in so far as we can see in it 
the manifestation at once of Christ's perfect obedience and of the 
righteousness of Divine judgment. If an attempt is made to 
penetrate further into the mystery of Redemption, it can be 
but a speculation, but it will be saved from overboldness if it 
follows the general lines of God's action as revealed in His 

Some light may be thrown upon the mystery of Christ's 

vii. The Atonement. 293 

death by considering the scriptural view of death in general 
as the penalty of sin. It is not the mere physical act of 
dying, for that, as S. Athanasius says, is natural to man l , and 
can be traced in the animal world in the ages before man 
existed. Besides, our Lord is said to have delivered us from 
death, and this clearly cannot mean physical death, since to 
this all men are still subject, but rather spiritual death ; and the 
death which is spoken of as the penalty of sin must therefore 
also be spiritual. In this sense death can be no other than the 
final removal from us of God's presence, the completion of the 
alienation from the Divine life which sin began. But, con- 
sidering the close connection, throughout the Bible, of physical 
and spiritual death, may it not be that the former is more than 
the symbol and type of the latter, that it is actually its consum- 
mation ? If, again, death be truly represented by the Chris- 
tian consciousness as the close of man's probation, does not 
this also point to its being the moment when the light of 
God's presence, the strength of His life, is finally withdrawn 
from the impenitent sinner, and the spiritual death, which is 
the one essential punishment of sin, falls upon him? The 
sentence of death, then, under which the whole world lay 
apart from the Atonement 2 , was the declaration that every man 
who by inheritance and by his own act shared in Adam's sin, 
should at the moment of physical death experience also the 
full measure of spiritual death. The common lot of death 
thus involved the consciousness of separation from the 
life of God, and when we so regard it, we can under- 
stand something of the horror which its anticipation brought 
upon the soul of the Son of God 3 . He must pass through 
this last and most awful human experience ; not only 
because it was human, but because by the victorious endurance 

1 De Incarn. VerU 4, ' Man is by 2 It should be remembered that 

nature mortal.' S. Athanasius held, the Church has always regarded the 

however, that this ' natural corrup- Atonement as having a retrospective ef- 

tion ' would have been suspended, feet, extending back to the first repre- 

but for the Fall, by the help of the sentatives of the human race. 

Logos empowering man to live the 3 Cf. Schmidt in Herzog's Real. 

Divine life. See on the whole sub- Encykl., Art. Versonung, vol. xvi. p. 

ject, The Christian Doctrine of Sin, App. 403. 
ii. p. 536. 

294 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

of it alone could the propitiation be accomplished. The 
thought throws light upon the prominence given to the death 
of Christ, upon His dread of it, upon His mysterious cry of 
dereliction upon the cross. It shews us how, though the 
experience was common to man, yet in Him it was in a two- 
fold manner unique. The withdrawal of God's presence, 
awful as it is to the sin-hardened nature of man, must have 
been immeasurably more bitter to Him Who was One with 
the Father, whose ' meat was to do the will of His Father.' 
Just as we may believe the tortures of the cross to have been 
specially grievous to the perfect body which was unstained 
by sin, though other men have endured them, so, though all 
have to pass through death with its accompanying terror of 
the loss of God's presence, none can realize what that ex- 
perience was to Him, because He was the Son of God. The 
death of Christ was therefore unique because of the nature of 
Him Who underwent it. But it was also unique in its results. 
No other death had been a propitiation for sin, for in no other 
death had this overwhelming consciousness of dereliction been 
endured victoriously, with no failure of perfect obedience, no 
shrinking of the will from the ordained task. In this final 
experience the offering was complete, the essence of the pro- 
pitiation was secured, for the actual result of all human sin 
was herein made the very revelation of holiness itself, the 
means whereby the union with the will of God, so far from 
being finally broken, was finally perfected. The propitiatory 
value, therefore, of the sacrifice of Christ lay in His absolute 
obedience, in His willing acceptance of suffering which was 
thereby acknowledged as the due reward of sin, and in the 
death which was the essential form of both, for death is the 
culminating point of the alienation from God, which is both 
sin and its punishment. He alone endured it victoriously and 
without sin ; He alone, therefore, transformed it from the sign 
and occasion of God's wrath into a well-pleasing offering ; He 
took the punishment and made it a propitiation. ' The chas- 
tisement of our peace was upon Him ; and with His stripes we 
are healed.' 

(c) So far we have considered the sacrifice of Christ in its 

vii. The Atonement. 295 

aspect God wards: we have tried to find an answer to the 
question, How did the death of Christ propitiate the wrath 
of God 1 There remains the further question, How was it a 
sacrifice for us 1 It was, we can see, a perfect offering accept- 
able to God : but how has it availed ' for us men ' ? The mind 
shrinks from a purely external Atonement, and part of the 
imperfection of the Mosaic sacrifices consisted in the merely 
artificial relation between the offender and the victim. In 
the perfect sacrifice this relation must be real; and we are 
thus led to the truth, so often overlooked, but impressed on 
every page of the New Testament, that He who died for our 
sins was our true representative in that He was truly man. 
Without for the present going into the more mystical doctrine 
of Christ as the second Adam, the spiritual head of our race, 
what is here emphasized is the reality and perfection of His 
human nature, which gave Him the right to offer a representa- 
tive sacrifice 1 . 'For verily not of angels doth He take hold, 
but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham. Wherefore it 
behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, 
that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things 
pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the 
people.' Being thus ' taken from among men,' He was 'ap- 
pointed for or, on behalf of men' and the justification of 
His Priesthood is the complete reality of His humanity, which, 
if we may so speak, overlay and hid His Divinity, so that 
' though He was a Son,' unchangeably ' in the form of God,' 
'yet learnt He obedience by the things which He suffered/ 
and thus became for us a perfect Priest. The sinless perfection 
of Christ, far from removing Him out of the sphere of our 
sinful lives, made Him perfectly representative ; for He not 
only possessed in their greatest perfection all the powers and 
capacities which are the instruments of sin, but in the strength 
of His sinlessness and of His love He could feel for all men 

1 Irenaeus is full of this thought, also Athanasius, de Tncarn. Verbi 9, in 

though it is not disentangled from which he suggests that it was the 

other explanations of the death of Divine power of the Logos in the 

Christ. Cf. especially V. xxiii. 2 : bodily nature of Christ that made 

' Recapitulans enim universum homi- His sacrifice representative, as well 

nem in se ab initio usque ad finem, as His death victorious over death, 
recapitulatus et mortem ejus.' Cf. 

296 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and accept them as His brethren, though they were sinners. 
Our High Priest ' hath been in all points like as we are, yet 
without sin.' The holiest man has some part of his nature 
stunted and repressed by sin, and is so far incomplete, unre- 
presentative : but He, unweakened and unmarred in any point 
by sin, can without .holding anything back represent human 
nature in its perfection and entirety. 

The representative character of Christ is manifested in a 
different aspect, according as He is regarded as the victim or 
as the priest offering the sacrifice. As the victim He must 
be the sin-bearer, for the transfer of guilt which under the 
Mosaic system was merely symbolised by the act of laying 
hands on the victim's head must for a true propitiatory 
sacrifice be more than external and artificial. That is to say, 
there must be a real meaning in S. Paul's tremendous words, 
' Him Who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf,' in 
the passages in which He is described as bearing our sins 1 , in 
the great prophecy which told that ' the Lord hath laid on 
Him the iniquity of us all.' How can we find an explanation 
of the paradox so boldly stated by S. Paul, that He who knew 
no sin was yet made sin 1 ? We may not surely take all these 
plain phrases to that He bore the punishment of our 
sins : it would have been easy to say that had it been meant. 
No, the relation typified by the Mosaic offerings must be real, 
and yet the expression ' He made Him to be sin ' cannot 
without blasphemy be understood to mean that God the 
Father actually made His Son to sin. The solution of the 
difficulty can only be found in the truth of the Incarnation. 
In order that the sacrifice might be representative. He took 
upon Him the whole of our human nature, and became flesh, 
conditioned though that fleshly nature was throughout by 
sin 2 . It was not only in His death that we contemplate 
Him as the sin-bearer, but throughout His life He was, as 
it were, conditioned by the sinfulness of those with whom His 

1 See especially Heb. ix. 28, which ' Hominem sine peccato, non sine 

is an echo of the LXX. of Is. liii. 12. peccatoris conditione suscepit. Nam 

3 Athan. c. Ar. i. 43 : ' He put on et nasci humanitus, et pati et mori 

the flesh which was enslaved to sin.' voluit.' I owe this reference to 

Cf. also Augustine, de Musica VI. iv : Norris, Rudiments of Theology, p. 61 n. 

vii. The Atonement. 297 

human nature brought Him into close and manifold relations. 
The Crucifixion does not come as the unexpectedly shame- 
ful end of a glorious and untroubled life, though it was 
undoubtedly in a special sense the manifestation of the 
'curse' under which He laid Himself. We cannot say 
that at a given moment in His life, as when the sinner's 
hands were laid upon the victim's head and his guilt 
was transferred, He began to bear our iniquity, for the very 
nature which He took, freed though it was in Him from here- 
ditary guilt, was in itself, by its necessary human relations, sin- 
bearing. Nor did His personal sinlessness make this impossible 
or unreal ; rather it intensified it. As S. Matthew tells us, even 
in relation to bodily sickness and infirmity, that He bore 
what He took away ' Himself took our infirmities, and bare 
our diseases ' so it was with our redemption from sin. In 
taking it away, He had to bear its weight, intensified by 
reason of that very self-sacrificing love which made Him 
realize with more than human keenness the sinfulness of the 
human nature into which He had come. There is thus no- 
thing artificial or external in His sin-bearing, for His human 
nature was so real and so perfect that He was involved, so to 
speak, in all the consequences of the sin which is so tremendous 
a factor in human life, even to the enduring of the very suf- 
ferings and death which in us are the penal results and final 
outcome of sin, but in Him were the means of His free self- 

Once more He was our representative as the Priest who 
offered the sacrifice. The requisite conditions of such an office 
are stated, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, to be complete 
human sympathy, and yet such separateness from sin, and 
from all limitations of incompleteness, as can only be Divine. 
'It behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His 
brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high 
priest ; ' ' but He, because He abideth for ever, hath His 
priesthood unchangeable . . . for such a high priest became us, 
holy, harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made 
higher than the heavens ; ' ' for the law appointeth men high 
priests, having infirmity ; but the word of the oath, which 

298 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

was after the Jaw, appointeth a Son, perfected for evermore V 
In these and similar passages the doctrine of the Priesthood 
of Christ is developed, and it is obvious that quite as much 
stress is laid on His unlikeness, as on His likeness to us 2 . 
He is our representative as Priest, because He is both man and 
more than man, and can therefore perform for us what we could 
not and cannot perform for ourselves, in offering the perfect 
propitiatory sacrifice. Here is the true vicariousness of the 
Atonement, which consisted, not, as we shall see later, in the 
substitution of His punishment for ours, but in His offering 
the sacrifice which man had neither purity nor power to offer. 
From out of the very heart and centre of the human nature 
which was so enslaved and corrupted by sin that no human 
offering was acceptable to God there is raised the sinless 
sacrifice of perfect humanity by the God-Man, our great 
High Priest: human in the completeness of His sympathy, 
Divine in the unique power of His Priesthood. So is the 
condition of the law of righteousness fulfilled, and the sacri- 
fice of obedience unto death is offered by His submission to 
all that constitutes in sinners the consummation and the 
punishment of their sin, which He transformed into the 
occasion and the manifestation of His perfect holiness. And 
it is a representative sacrifice, for unique though it is, it con- 
sists of no unheard-of experience, of no merely symbolical 
ceremony, unrelated and unmeaning to us ; but of just those 
universal incidents of suffering which, though He must have 
felt them with a bitterness unknown to us, are intensely 
human poverty, misunderstanding, failure, treachery, re- 
jection, bodily anguish, spiritual desolation, death. 'Surely 
He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . The 
chastisement of our peace was upon Him,' and therefore ' by 
His stripes we are healed.' 

2. It is not enough to consider the death of Christ only as 
propitiatory, or as standing alone in relation to our redemp- 

1 Heb. ii. 17; vii. 24, 26, 28: cf. Man, by taking created flesh; that, 

ix. 13, 14, 24, 25, 26; x. n, 12, 13, since all were under sentence of 

14- death, He, being other than them oW, 

- Cf. Athan. c. Ar. ii. 69: 'He sends might Himself for all offer to death 

His own Son, and He becomes Son of His own body.' 

vii. The Atonement. 299 

tion. We have seen how it secured our propitiation, and in 
what sense it has a unique place in relation both to our Lord 
Himself and to man. There remains the further aspect of 
His redemptive work, in which it is regarded as effecting our 
reunion with God by delivering us from the power of sin, 
and by filling us with the Divine gift of life. This, it should 
be noticed, is the conception of our Lord's work which was 
chiefly in the minds of the early Christian writers, though in 
almost all it was combined with the acknowledgment of His 
deliverance of man from guilt and from the wrath of God by 
His representative propitiation 1 . But to their consciousness 
the power of sin and of the spiritual forces with which man 
is surrounded was so continually present, that they were 
naturally inclined to look mainly at that side of the Atone- 
ment which represents it as the victory over sin and Satan 
and the restoration of man to the life of God. And this view, 
though by no means to the exclusion of the propitiatory 
aspect, is amply justified by the Bible. Considered as re- 
storation, there seem to be three grades or stages of redemp- 
tion indicated in the New Testament. First, there is the 
unanimous declaration that the object of our Lord's life and 
death was to free us from sin. In the most sacrificial de- 
scriptions of His work this further result of the Atonement is 
implied. The 'Lamb of God' is to 'take away the sin of 
the world ' ; His Blood was to be ' shed for the remission of 
sins ' ; by ' the precious Blood of Jesus Christ as of a Lamb 
without blemish ' men were ' redeemed from their vain con- 
versation ' ; He ' gave Himself for us, that He might redeem 
us from all iniquity.' In the next place, this deliverance 
from sin is identified with the gift of life, which is repeat- 
edly connected with our Lord's life and death. ' I am come 
that they might have life ' ; for ' I will give My flesh for the 
life of the world.' ' He died for all, that they which live 

1 The two aspects of the Atone- fresh beginning of life, in that He 

ment are frequently presented by S. bestowed on us the hope of ivsur- 

Athanasius, delncarn. VerW. Thus (ch. rection.' Cf. also chs. 8 and 9. Again 

10) 'By the sacrifice of His own (ch. 25), 'As He offered His Body 

Body He both put an end to the law unto death for all ; so by it He again 

which was against us, and gave us a threw open the way to heaven.' 

300 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him 
who died for them and rose again.' He ' bare our sins in His 
own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins might live 
unto righteousness.' Lastly, this new life is to issue in union 
with the life of God in Christ. ' Christ suffered for sins, the 
just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.' ' In 
Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the 
Blood of Christ.' In such passages the Apostles are only 
drawing out the meaning of our Lord's own declaration, ' I, 
if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.' 

Our Lord's death is thus intimately connected by the New 
Testament writers with the restoration of man to union with 
God by means of the gift of life ; but it should be noticed that, 
unique and necessary as His death was, it is continually 
spoken of in close connection with the Resurrection or the 
Ascension, for in these, as was foreshadowed by the typical 
ceremonies of the Law, the sacrifice culminated by the pre- 
sentation of the 'life which had willingly passed through 
death' before the altar of God's presence. The reason is clear. 
Pardon for the past, deliverance from guilt, propitiation of 
the just wrath of God, are necessary and all-important; but 
they cannot stand alone. They must, for man is helpless 
and weak, be succeeded by the gift of life, and for this we 
must look to those mighty acts in which the One Sacrifice 
reached its full consummation. Thus our Lord Himself 
declares that He died in order to rise again ; ' I lay down 
My life that [in order that] I may take it again.' So to 
S. Paul the Resurrection is the necessary completion of the 
process which was begun by the death. ' He was delivered 
for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.' 
' If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through 
the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, shall we 
be saved through [in] His life.' ' We were buried with Him 
through baptism unto death ; that [in order that] like as 
Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the 
Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.' Even the 
passages which speak of our salvation as effected by virtue of 
Christ's Blood, refer, according to the Jewish conception of 

vii. The Atonement. 301 

the { blood which is the life,' not only, or even chiefly, to the 
bloodshedding in death, but to the heavenly ' sprinkling ' of 
the principle of life, its presentation in heaven by means of the 
Resurrection and Ascension. The whole process is described 
in what may be called the central core of S. Paul's theology, 
the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. ' It is Christ 
Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who 
is at the Right Hand of God, who also maketh intercession for 
us.' It has been the fault of much popular theology to think 
only of our deliverance from wrath by the sacrificial death of 
Christ, and to neglect the infinitely important continuation 
of the process thus begun. The Gospel is a religion of life, 
the call to a life of union with God by means of the grace 
which flows from the mediation of the risen and ascended 
Saviour. We need not discuss the comparative importance 
of the two aspects of the work of Atonement, for propitiation 
and reunion, pardon and life are alike necessary elements in 
salvation, and by the love of God in Christ are united in the 
sacrifice which was begun on Calvary, and is for ever presented 
for our redemption before the throne of God in heaven. 

3. So far we have been considering the Atonement as 
our Lord's work on behalf of men : we have now to consider 
it as meeting the inevitable demand of the human conscience 
that this vicarious sacrifice shall in some way satisfy man's 
sense of personal responsibility ; that by means of the Atone- 
ment man shall, so far as he can, make amends for his own 
sin. The charge of injustice, as it is generally urged against 
the doctrine of the Atonement, rests, as will be shewn, upon 
a fundamental misconception as to the nature of Christ's 
work for us ; but it is also commonly assumed that by the 
death of Christ all was done for man, and nothing in man, 
so that we are thereby relieved of all responsibility for our 
own wilful acts. It is this notion that we have now to 
investigate. First, however, we must acknowledge the truth 
contained in it. The Atonement is, after all, God's forgive- 
ness of us in Christ, and no forgiveness is conceivable which 
does not in some degree relieve the offender of the conse- 
quences of his offence. Human forgiveness, though it may 

302 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

in some cases, perhaps, remit no part of the external penalty 
due to wrong-doing, must, in the very act of forgiving, put 
away and abolish the anger of the offended person, the alien- 
ation which the offence has caused, and which is certainly 
part, sometimes the greatest part, of the penal consequences 
of an offence. Human forgiveness, therefore, necessarily 
transgresses the strict law of retribution : yet no one can 
seriously contend that forgiveness is either impossible or 
immoral. And more than this, there is even in our imper- 
fect forgiveness a power to blot out guilt, and to restore 
the offender to new life. Inexplicable though the fact 
may be, experience tells us that forgiveness avails to lift 
the load of guilt that presses upon an offender. A change 
passes over him that can only be described as regenerative, 
life-giving ; and thus the assurance of pardon, however con- 
veyed, may be said to obliterate in some degree the conse- 
quences of the past 1 . It is true that this result of forgiveness 
cannot be explained logically so as to satisfy the reason, but 
the possibility and the power of pardon are nevertheless facts 
of human experience. The Atonement is undoubtedly a 
mystery, but all forgiveness is a mystery. The Atonement 
undoubtedly transgresses the strict law of exact retribution, 
but all forgiveness transgresses it. And we may believe that 
human forgiveness is, in spite of all its imperfection, like that 
of God, for this is surely the lesson of the Lord's Prayer, 
' Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass 
against us.' Experience and conscience, therefore, lead us to 
expect that the Divine method of forgiveness will both dis- 
prove the exaggerated idea of personal responsibility, which 
is based on a false estimate of man's power, and will also 
transcend reason by rising into a region of mystery and of 
miracle 2 . We have to deal in this sphere of pardon with 
a God Who ' declares His almighty power most chiefly in 
showing mercy and pity.' 

1 Cf. Westcott, Historic Faith, p. 133. ment of sin (cf. against this Dale, 

2 Cf. Magee, The Gospel and the Age, The Atomment, Lect. viii) and to over- 
pp. 270 ff. Bishop Magee, however, look the force of the analogy from 
seems to exaggerate the certainty and human experience of forgiveness, 
relentlessness of the temporal punish- 

vii. The Atonement. 303 

One aspect of this mystery is to be found in the truth, 
stamped on every page of the New Testament, of the mystical 
union between Christ and His people. By virtue of this union 
His acts are ascribed to us ; and thus, according to S. Paul, we 
died in Him, we are raised in Him, and the sacrifice which 
He offered, we have also offered, as in Him. The doctrine of 
the Second Adam, of the spiritual headship of Christ, would not 
indeed if it stood alone satisfy the demands of the conscience ; 
but when taken in connection with the practical sacramental 
teaching which is based upon it, it points to the solution of the 
problem. By the Incarnation we are taken up into Him, and 
therefore the acts that in His human nature He performed are 
our acts, by virtue of that union which is described by Him as 
the union of a vine with its branches, by S. Paul as that of the 
head with the members of a body. But in considering the 
results of this union, the reciprocal communication of the 
weakness of our bodily nature to Him, of His victorious deeds 
in the body to us, a distinction must be drawn between that 
part of His work which can, and that which cannot be shared 
by us. Of one part of His work, of the sacrifice which He 
offered for man's guilt, the essence was its vicariousness. Man 
could not and never can offer a sacrifice which can avail to pro- 
pitiate for the sins of the past. It is only in virtue of that one 
final and perfect propitiation that we can draw nigh to God, can 
accomplish anything good, can recognise that we are delivered 
from wrath. The sins of the past are cancelled, the guilt is 
wiped out : in this respect all was accomplished by Him for 
us who are in Him, and nothing remains for us to do. He as 
our Representative, because He shares our nature, can offer 
for us a prevailing sacrifice ; only as His brethren, because He 
has united us to Him, are we enabled to plead the sacrifice which 
He offered. It is indeed offered for us, for it was utterly im- 
possible that we could offer it for ourselves ; it was the neces- 
sary initial step, which man could not take, towards union 
with the righteous Father. As our spiritual head, the second 
Adam, the captain of our salvation, He had the right of offer- 
ing on our behalf ; as in Him by virtue of the Incarnation we 
are empowered to claim the infinite blessings of the redemption 

304 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

so obtained x . If this is mysterious, irrational, transcendental, 
so is all morality ; for at the root of all morality lies the power 
of self-sacrifice, which is nothing but the impulse of love to 
make a vicarious offering for its fellows, and the virtue of such 
an offering to restore and to quicken 2 . The righteousness of 
God required from the human nature which had sinned the 
sacrifice of a perfect obedience manifested in and through 
death : that is the unique and unapproachable mystery of the 
Atonement ; but that the sacrifice should be offered by a sin- 
less Man, and that we should be accepted by God in virtue of 
His propitiation and because of our union with Him, that, 
though mysterious enough, as human reason counts mystery, 
is prefigured and illustrated and explained by all the deepest 
experiences of the race, by all that is most human, though it 
most evades logical analysis, in our moral consciousness 3 . 

There is then no additional propitiation demanded from 
us. The Atonement, in this aspect, requires nothing from 
us, for the forgiveness is there, bestowed upon us by God 
in consequence of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But like 
the gifts of grace which come after forgiveness, the forgive- 
ness itself has to be personally accepted by us ; it must be 
brought into contact with each man's will. So regarded, the 
Atonement, though the great gift of reconciliation is absolutely 
free, the product of the spontaneous love of God, does lay 
upon us an obligation. On our part faith is demanded that 
we may realize, and appropriate, and associate ourselves with 
the pardon which is ours in Christ. This is not the place for 
a full discussion of justifying faith : it is enough to indicate 
what seems to be its relation to the Atonement, as being man's 
share in the propitiatory work of Christ. It is often said that 
the faith which justifies is simply trust 4 , but it must surely 
be a more complex moral act than this. If faith is the 

1 Cf. Ath. c. Ar. iii. 34. 'As the see Holland, Creed and Character, pp. 

Lord in putting on the body, became 212 ff. 

Man, so we men are made gods by 3 On the truth of the solidarity of 

the Word, being taken into Him all men in Christ, see Westcott, The 

through His Flesh, and from hence- Victory of the Cross, pp. 6-53. 

forth inherit life eternal.' * See e.g. Moule, Outlines ofCliristian 

3 For this thought fully drawn out, Doctrine, p. 185. 

vii. The Atonement. 305 

acceptance of Christ's propitiation, it must contain, in the first 
place, that longing for reconciliation which springs from the 
personal consciousness of sin as alienation from God, and 
from horror of its guilt and power. There must then ensue 
the recognition of man's complete powerlessness to free him- 
self from sin, and a deeply humble sense of dependence on 
God's mercy ; but this mere trust in His mercy is not enough, 
for it would not satisfy the sense of sin. The sinner has to 
own that God is not merely benevolent, and that sin must be 
punished. Therefore faith must contain the recognition of 
the justice of the Divine law against sin, manifested in the 
death of Christ. Faith, in short, starts from the longing for a 
representative to atone for us, and it ends with the recognition 
of Christ as our representative, of His Atonement as sufficient, 
and of His death as displaying the due reward of sin. For 
the Atonement cannot be a mere external act. If Christ is 
our representative, He must be acknowledged by those whom 
He represents : otherwise His endurance of suffering would 
avail nothing for them, for God will not be satisfied with the 
mere infliction of punishment. But if the result of His death 
is that men are brought, one by one, age after age, to acknow- 
ledge the righteousness of the law for which He suffered, to 
recognise the result of sin to which sin has blinded them, then 
there has been made on their part the first step towards the 
great reconciliation. Faith identifies the individual with the 
sacrifice which has been offered for him, and therefore with 
Christ's attitude towards God and towards sin, and though it 
is but the first step, yet it is emphatically that by reason of 
which we are justified. For since we are thus identified with 
the sacrifice, God accepts the first step for the whole course, of 
which it is the pledge and anticipation. We are justified be- 
cause we believe in God, but also because God believes in us 1 . 
Faith, being what it is, a complex moral act whereby Christ's 
propitiation is accepted by man, implies an attitude of mind 
towards sin so right that, though it is but the first movement 

1 Cf. Aug. de Trin. i. 10 : ' Tales nos amat Deus, quales futuri sumus, non 
quales sumus.' 


306 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

of the soul in Christ, God takes it for the whole, sees us as 
wholly in Him, reckons it to us as righteousness. But only 
because it is as a matter of fact the first, the hardest, perhaps, 
and the most necessary, but still only the first step towards com- 
plete sanctification. And, if we now ask what is the further 
course of sanctification, the answer will shew the full relation 
of the sacrifice of Christ to man's will and conscience. For 
the life of sanctification is nothing else but the ' imitation of 
Christ ' in that task of ' learning obedience ' to which His life 
was devoted, and which His death completed. In us, too, as 
in Him, that task has to be accomplished by suffering. ' He 
learnt obedience by the things which He suffered.' ' It be- 
came Him ... in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the 
Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.' That 
same path towards perfection lies before all who are justified 
by faith in His atoning sacrifice. For justification is a spiritual 
act answering to the spiritual act of faith. The spiritual germ 
of vitality thus implanted in us has to be developed in the 
sphere in which the consequences of sin naturally and inevit- 
ably work themselves out, in the bodily nature of man. ' Even 
we,' says S. Paul, ' which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,' 
even we are waiting for the further process, for ' the adoption, 
to wit, the redemption of our body.' And the process consists 
in so following ' the Captain of our salvation ' that, like Him, 
we accept every one of those sufferings which are the conse- 
quences of sin, but accept them not as punishment imposed 
from without upon unwilling offenders, but as the material of 
our freewill sacrifice. From no one pang or trial of our 
nature has He delivered us, indeed, He has rather laid them 
upon us more unsparingly, more inevitably. But the suffer- 
ings from which He would not deliver us He has transformed 
for us. They are no longer penal, but remedial and peniten- 
tial. Pain has become the chastisement of a Father who 
loves us, and death the passage into His very presence. And 
this He has done for us by the bestowal upon us of spiritual 
vitality. The germ is implanted by the act of forgiveness 
which removes the wrath and the impending death, and this 
germ of life, cherished and developed by the gifts which flow 

vii. The Atonement. 307 

from His mediation and intercession, by the Holy Spirit 
Whom He sends to dwell in us, works on all the penalties of 
sin, and makes them the sacrifice which we offer in Him. 
This is the ' law of the Spirit of life.' ' If Christ be in you, 
the body is dead because of sin ; but the Spirit is life because 
of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up 
Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ 
from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His 
Spirit that dwelleth in you.' 

Our personal share then in the Atonement is not mere 
passivity. It consists, first, in the acceptance of God's for- 
giveness in Christ, our self-identification with Christ's atoning 
attitude, and then in working out, by the power of the life 
bestowed upon us, all the consequences of forgiveness, the 
transformation of punishment into sacrifice, the imitation of 
Christ in His perfect obedience to the law of righteousness, the 
gradual sanctification of body, soul and spirit by the grace 
which enables us to ' suffer with Him.' 

III. The doctrine of Atonement, more than any of the great 
truths of Christianity, has been misconceived and misrepre- 
sented, and has therefore not only been rejected itself, but has 
sometimes been the cause of the rejection of the whole Chris- 
tian system. The truth of the vicarious sacrifice has been iso- 
lated till it has almost become untrue, and, mysterious as it un- 
doubtedly is, it has been so stated as to be not only mysterious, 
but contrary to reason and even to conscience. One most 
terrible misconception it is hardly necessary to do more than 
mention. The truth of the wrath of God against sin and of 
the love of Christ by which that wrath was removed, has been 
perverted into a belief in a divergence of will between God 
the Father and God the Son, as if it was the Father's will 
that sinners should perish, the Son's will that they should be 
saved ; as if the Atonement consisted in the propitiation of 
the wrathful God by the substituted punishment of the inno- 
cent for the guilty. It will be seen that while this statement 
seems to represent the Catholic doctrine, in reality it intro- 
duces a most vital difference. There can be no divergence of 
will between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity ; and, in regard 

308 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

to this special dealing with man, we have the clearest testimony 
of Revelation that the whole Godhead shared in the work. 
Here, as always, God the Father is revealed as the source and 
origin of all good. ' God so loved the world that He gave 
His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him 
should not perish, but have everlasting life.' ' God was in 
Christ reconciling the world to Himself.' The beginning and 
the end of the Atonement is the love of God : the death of Christ 
was not the cause, but the revelation of that love 1 . That it 
was the second Person of the Trinity who was actually the 
means of our redemption may be ascribed to that original 
relation of the Logos to the human race, by which He was 
both its Creator and its perfect exemplar 2 . But nothing can 
be further from the truth than to imagine that His was all the 
love which saved us, the Father's all the wrath which con- 
demned us. If the death of Christ was necessary to propitiate 
the wrath of the Father, it was necessary to propitiate His 
own wrath also ; if it manifested His love, it manifested the 
Father's love also. The absolute, unbroken, unity of will 
between the Father and the Son is the secret of the atonin; 

Again, the isolation of the truth of the Atonement from 
other parts of Christian doctrine has led to a mode of stating 
it which deprives us of all motive to action, of all responsi- 
bility for our own salvation. Just as the misconception notice 
above arose from a failure to grasp the whole truth of ou 
Lord's Divinity, so this error springs from ignoring His per- 
fect Humanity. Christ is regarded as having no vital or re 
relation to us, and His work is therefore wholly external, 
mere gift from above. But what has already been said 
shew that from the first the Atonement has been taught 
the offering of our spiritual Head, in Whom we are redeeme 
and whose example we are able to follow as having Him i 

1 This is well stated by M c Leod that the world should honour anj 

Campbell, 1. c. p. 16. other as the Saviour but Him Whor 

'* Cf. Athan. de Inc. passim, esp. it honoureth as the Creator of the 

chs. 20 and 42. Hooker, Eccles. Pol. V. world.' 
li. 3, 'Itseemeth a thing un consonant 

vii. The Atonement. 309 

us. Salvation is thus given to us indeed, but it is given to 
us because we are in Christ, and we have to work out our 
share in it because of the responsibility, the call to sacrifice 
which that union with Him lays upon us. ' Work out your 
own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which 
worketh in you both to will and to do.' It is all from God 
and of God ; but God has come into our life, and taken us up 
into Him, and called upon us to follow Him in the way of the 

And this leads us to consider another error, or rather an- 
other form of the same error. Nothing is more common than 

O ^ 

to hear the doctrine of Atonement stated as if the work of 
Christ consisted in His endurance of our punishment in order 
that we might not endure it. This view of the doctrine leads 
to the objections perhaps the commonest of all the difficulties 
found in what men take for Christianity that the punish- 
ment of the innocent instead of the guilty is unjust, and that 
punishment cannot be borne by anyone but the sinner. We 
have seen that the real vicariousness of our Lord's work lay 
in the offering of the perfect sacrifice : the theory we are now 
considering holds, on the contrary, that it lay in the substi- 
tution of His punishment for ours. A partial truth is con- 
tained in this theory ; for our Lord did endure sufferings, and, 
as has been already said, they were the very sufferings which 
are, in sinners, the penalties of sin. But as a simple matter 
of fact and experience, the sufferings and the pains of death 
which He endured have not been remitted to us ; and that 
which is remitted, the eternal penalty of alienation from God, 
was not, could not be endured by Him. For alienation from 
God is, essentially, a state of sin ; it is sin, regarded both in 
its origin and in its necessary result. It could not, therefore, 
be borne by Christ, ' in Whom was no sin,' between Whom and 
the Father was no alienation. Attempts have been made to 
establish a quantitative relation between our Lord's sufferings 
and the punishment which is thereby remitted to us, to prove 
that the eternal nature of the Sufferer made His death equi- 
valent to eternal punishment. But even if such attempts, in 
so mysterious a region, could succeed, it would be vain to 

310 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

establish a quantitative equivalence where there is no quali- 
tative relation. Eternal punishment is ' eternal sin Y and as 
such could never be endured by the sinless Son of God. 

But we have to face the question which naturally follows. 
What, then, did His sufferings and death mean 1 Why did 
He endure what are to us the temporal penalties, the diverse 
consequences of sin ? And if He endured them, why are 
they not remitted to us ? It is true, as has been shewn, that 
He bore just those sufferings which are the results and 
penalties of sin, even to that tremendous final experience 
in which man loses sight of God as he enters the valley of 
the shadow of death ; but He bore them, not that we might 
be freed from them, for we have deserved them, but that 
we might be enabled to bear them, as He did, victoriously 
and in unbroken union with God. He, the Innocent, suffered, 
but the guilty do not 'go free ;' for the very end and object 
of all the obedience that He learnt was, that He might lead 
man along the same path of suffering, not ' free,' but gladly 
submissive to the pains, which, but for Him, would be the 
overwhelming penalties of our sins. It may be true that 
' punishment cannot be borne by anyone but the sinner 2 ,' 
and therefore it may be right not to call Christ's sufferings 
punishment, especially as the expression is significantly 
avoided in the New Testament. But it is certainly not true 
that the sufferings which result from sin cannot be borne by 
anyone but the sinner: every day demonstrates the falsity 
of such an assertion. Sufferings borne in the wrong spirit, 
unsubmissively or without recognition of their justice, are 
penal ; but the spirit of humility and obedience makes them 
remedial and purgatorial. Christ, by so bearing the pains 
which sin brought upon human nature, and which the special 
sin of His enemies heaped upon Him, has not only offered 
the one perfect sacrifice, but has also given us strength to 
make the same submission, to learn the same obedience and to 
share the same sacrifice. 

IV. There are many topics connected with the Atonement 

1 Cf. the true reading of S. Mark iii. 29, R. V. 2 W. R. Greg. 

vii. The Atonement. 311 

which it is impossible here to discuss, but which seem to fall 
into their right place and proportion if those aspects of 
Christ's redeeming work which have been dwelt upon are 
kept firmly in mind. The central mystery of the cross, 
the forgiveness, the removal of wrath, thereby freely bestowed 
upon us, remains a mystery, and must always be an insuper- 
able difficulty to those who depend wholly on reason, or who 
trust wholly in man's power to extricate himself from the 
destruction wrought by his sin, as it was an offence to the 
Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. But mystery though it is 
to the intellect, there is a moral fitness l in the bestowal of 
forgiveness because of the obedience of Christ shewn in His 


sacrificial death, which appeals irresistibly to the moral con- 
sciousness of mankind. The witness of this is the trustful 
gratitude with which the doctrine of Christ crucified has been 
accepted by Christians, learned and unlearned, from the age 
of its first preaching. The human heart accepts it, and by 
the cross is assured of forgiveness : ' to them which are 
called ' it is ' Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of 

But if we may appeal to experience in support of this 
mysterious truth, much more may we claim the same support 
for the plainer, more human aspect of the Atonement. As 
S. Athanasius in his day 2 , so we in ours may appeal for the 
practical and visible proof of the Atonement, to the complete 
change in man's relation to sorrow and suffering, and in the 
Christian view of death 3 . This is no small matter. When 
we realize what suffering is in human life, the vast place 
which it has in our experience, its power of absorbing the 
mind, its culmination in the final pangs of death, and when 

1 It should be noticed that the 3 Cf. Carlyle's apostrophe to Marie 
Greek Fathers and the English divines Antoinette on her way to the scaffold : 
for the most part confine themselves ' Think of Him Whom thou wor- 
to shewing this moral fitness and shippest, the Crucified, Who also 
consonance with God's moral nature treading the winepress alone, fronted 
in the Atonement, and do not attempt sorrow still deeper ; and triumphed 
to prove its absolute necessity. Cf. over it, and made it Holy, and built 
Athanasius, de Incarn. Verbi, ch. 6; of it a " Sanctuary of Sorrow " for thee 
Hooker, Ecdes. Pol. V. li. 3 ; Butler, and all the wretched.' Miscellaneous 
Analogy, pt. ii. c. 5. Essays, vol. v. p. 165 (ed. 1872). 

2 Cf. De Incarn. Verbi, chs. 27, 28, 29. 

3 1 2 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

we see the transformation, however gradual and imperfect it 
may be, of all this into the means and material of the sacrifice 
which the follower of Christ is gladly willing to offer to the 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we realize the full force of 
the great words telling of the destruction ' through death of 
him that had the power of death, that is the devil,' and of the 
deliverance of ' them who through fear of death were all their 
lifetime subject to bondage.' And the transformation, the 
destruction, the deliverance, consist in this that from these 
sufferings His sacrifice has removed the element of rebellion, 
the hopelessness of alienation, the sting of sin. They are ours, 
because they were His ; but they are ours as they were His, 
purified and perfected by obedience, by the offering of a holy 
Will ; ' by the which Will we are sanctified through the 
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.' 






I. THE appeal to ' experience ' in religion, whether personal 
or general, brings before the mind so many associations of 
ungoverned enthusiasm and untrustworthy fanaticism, that it 
does not easily commend itself to those of us who are most 
concerned to be reasonable. And yet, in one form or another, 
it is an essential part of the appeal which Christianity makes 
on its own behalf since the day when Jesus Christ met the 
question 'Art thou He that should come, or do we look for 
another ? ' by pointing to the transforming effect of His 
work ; ' The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk ; 
the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear ; the dead are 
raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to 

The fact is that in current appeals to experience the 
fault, where there is a fault, lies not in the appeal but in 
the nature of the experience appealed to. What is meant 
by the term is often an excited state of feeling, rather than 
a permanent transformation of the whole moral, intellectual, 
and physical being of man. Or it is something which seems 
individual and eccentric, or something confined to a particular 
class of persons under special conditions of education or of 
ignorance, or something which other religions besides Chris- 
tianity have been conspicuous for producing. When a mean- 
ing broad and full, and at the same time exact enough, has 
been given to experience the appeal is essential to Chris- 
tianity, because Christianity professes to be not a mere 
record of the past, but a present life, and there is no life 
where there is no experience. 

316 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

It will be worth while, then, to bear in mind how freely 
the original defenders of the Christian Church appealed, like 
their Master, to facts of experience. Thus we find an in- 
dividual, like S. Cyprian, recalling the time of his baptism, 
and the personal experience of illumination and power which 
it brought with it : 

' Such were my frequent musings : for whereas I was en- 
cumbered with the many sins of my past life, which it seemed 
impossible to be rid of, so I had used myself to give way to 
my clinging infirmities, and, from despair of better things, 
to humour the evils of my heart, as slaves born in my house, 
and my proper offspring. But after that life-giving water 
succoured me, washing away the stain of former years, and 
pouring into my cleansed and hallowed breast the light 
which comes from heaven, after that I drank in the Heavenly 
Spirit, and was created into a new man by a second birth, 
then marvellously what before was doubtful became plain to 
me, what was hidden was revealed, what was dark began 
to shine, what was before difficult, now had a way and 
a means, what had seemed impossible, now could be achieved, 
what was in me of the guilty flesh, now confessed that it 
was earthy, what was quickened in me by the Holy Ghost, 
now had a growth according to God V 

Again, we find an apologist like S. Athanasius, resting the 
stress of his argument on behalf of Christ upon what He 
has done in the world, and specially on the spiritual force 
He exercises on masses of men, ' drawing them to religion, 
persuading them to virtue, teaching them immortality, lead- 
ing them to the desire of heavenly things, revealing the 
knowledge of the Father, inspiring power over death, shewing 
each man to himself, abolishing the godlessness of idolatry V 

The Fathers of the Christian Church appealed in this way 
to experience, because Christianity, as they knew, is essen- 
tially not a past event, but a present life, a life first manifested 
in Christ and then perpetuated in His Church. Christianity 
is a manifested life, a thing, therefore, like all other forms 

1 Cyprian, ad Donatum 3. Trans, in Library of the Fathers, iii. p. 3. 

2 Athanasius, de Incarnatione, 31, 48-52. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 317 

of life, known not in itself but in its effects, its fruits, its 
results. Christianity is a manifested life, and it is this 
because it is the sphere in which the Spirit, the Life-giver, 
finds His freeest and most unhindered activity. The Chris- 
tian Church is the scene of the intensest, the most vigorous, 
the richest, the most ' abundant ' life that the universe 
knows, because in a preeminent sense it is the ' Spirit-bearing 
body.' The Spirit is life ; that is His chief characteristic. 
We may indeed elucidate the idea of spirit by negations ; by 
negation of materiality, of circumscription, of limitation ; but 
the positive conception we are to attach to spirit is the con- 
ception of life ; and where life is most penetrating, profound, 
invincible, rational, conscious of God, there in fullest freedom 
of operation is the Holy Spirit 1 . 

Thus, obviously enough, the doctrine of the Spirit is no 
remote or esoteric thing ; it is no mere ultimate object of the 
rapt contemplation of the mystic ; it is the doctrine of that 
wherein God touches man most nearly, most familiarly, in 
common life. Last in the eternal order of the Divine Being, 
' proceeding from the Father and the Son,' the Holy Spirit 
is the first point of contact with God in the order of human 
experience 2 . 

' I believe in the Holy Ghost, the giver of life.' All life is 
His operation. ' Wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is also 
life ; and wherever life is, there is also the Holy Spirit V Thus 
if creation takes its rise in the will of the Father, if it finds its 
law in the being of the Word or Son, yet the effective instru- 
ment of creation, the ' finger of God,' the moving principle 

1 See S. Basil's fine definition of the with the Distributor ; then we come to 

term in his treatise on the Holy Spirit, consider the Sender ; then we carry 

ix. 22. This treatise has been trans- back our thought to the Fount and 

lated by the Rev. G. Lewis for the Cause of the good things.' Cf. xviii. 

' Religious Tract Society.' 47 : < The way of the knowledge of 

3 See Basil, as above, xvi. 37 : ' We God is from one Spirit, by the one 

must not suppose because the Apostle Son, to the one Father: and reversely, 

(i Cor. xii. 4) mentions the Spirit first, the natural goodness of God, His 

and the Son second, and God the holiness of nature, His royal rank 

Father third, that the order at the taking their rise from the Father, 

present day has been quite reversed. reach the Spirit though the Only- 

For he made his beginning from our begotten,' 

end of the relation: for it is by receiv- 3 Ambrose, de Spiritit Sancto, i. 15, 

ing the gifts, that we come in contact 172. 

3 1 8 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

of vitalization is the Holy Spirit, ' the divider and distributor 
of the gifts of life V 

Nature is one great body, and there is breath in the body ; 
but this breath is not self-originated life, it is the influence 
of the Divine Spirit. 'By the word of the Lord were the 
heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of 
His mouth.' The Spirit, the breath of God, was brooding 
upon the face of the waters of chaos ere life and order were. 
It is the sending forth of the breath of God, which is the 
giving to things of the gift of life ; it is the withdrawal of 
that breath which is their annihilation 2 . So keenly indeed 
were the Christians of the early period conscious of the one 
life of nature as the universal evidence of the one Spirit, 
that it was a point of the charge against Origen that his 
language seemed to involve an exclusion of the Holy Spirit 
from nature, and a limitation of His activity to the Church 3 . 
The whole of life is certainly His. And yet, because His 
special attribute is holiness, it is in rational natures, which 
alone are capable of holiness, that He exerts His special 
influence. A special in-breathing of the Divine Spirit gave 
to man his proper being 4 . In humanity, made after the 
Divine Image, it was the original intention of God that the 
Spirit should find His chiefest joy, building the edifice of a 
social life in which nature was to find its crown and justi- 
fication : a life of conscious and free sonship, in which the 
gifts of God should be not only received, but recognised as 
His, and consciously used in willing and glad homage to 
the Divine Giver, in reverent execution of the law of 
development impressed by the Divine Reason, in the realized 
fellowship of the Blessed Spirit of knowledge and love. 
The history of humanity has in fact been a development, but 
a development the continuity of which is most apparent in 
that department in which man appears simply as the child of 
nature, the most perfect and interesting of her products, con- 

1 So Irenaeus, Cyril of Jerusalem, 29, 30. 

Athanasius, Basil, Didymus, Victori- 3 Huet. Origeniana, L. ii. Qu. 2. 
mis, express the relation of the Divine c. xxvii. Cf. Athan. Epp. ad Sera- 
Persons in Creation. pion. i. 23-31 ; iv. 9-12. 

2 Ps. xxxiii. 6 ; Gen. i. 2 ; Ps. civ. * Gen. ii. 7. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 319 

sciously adapting himself to his environment and moulded by 
it. This indeed has been so much the case that the facts of 
the history of civilization have been used, at least plausibly, 
as an argument against our race really possessing moral 
freedom at all. Such a use of the facts is, we recognise, not 
justifiable. It leaves out of consideration some of the most 
striking elements in human history, and some of the most 
certain facts of human consciousness. But the very plausible- 
ness of the argument is suggestive. It means that compara- 
tively very few men have been at pains to realize their true 
freedom ; that men in masses have been dominated by the 
mere forces of nature ; or, in other words, that human history 
presents broadly the record of a one-sided, a distorted develop- 
ment. For man was not meant for merely natural evolution, 
mere self-adaptation to the ' things that are seen.' The con- 
sciousness that he was meant for something higher has tinged 
his most brilliant physical successes, his greatest triumphs of 
civilization and art, with the bitterness of remorse, the misery 
of conscious lawlessness. 

Our race was created for conscious fellowship with God, 
for sonship, for the life of spirit. And it is just in this depart- 
ment that its failure has been most conspicuous. It is here 
that the Divine Spirit has found His chiefest disappointment. 
Everywhere He has found rebellion not everywhere without 
exception, for ' in every age entering into holy souls, He has 
made them sons of God and prophets ' : hut everywhere in 
such a general sense that sin in fact and in its consequences 
covers the whole region of humanity. In the highest depart- 
ment of created life, where alone lawlessness was possible, 
because what was asked for was the co-operation of free 
service to cany out a freely accepted ideal 1 , there alone is 
the record of lawlessness, the record of the Spirit striving- with 
man, but resisted, rejected, ignored, quenched. Thus the 
word, which in fact most forcibly characterizes man's spiritual 
history, so far as it has been according to the mind of God, is 
not progress, but recovery, or redemption. It is not natural 
but supernatural supernatural, that is, in view of the 

1 Athan. de Incarn. xliii. 3. 

320 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

false nature which man made for himself by excluding God. 
Otherwise the work of redemption is only the reconstitution 
of the nature which God designed. It is the recovery within 
the limits of a chosen race and by a deliberate process of 
limitation, of a state of things which had been intended to be 
universal J . The ' elect ' represent not the special purpose of 
God for a few, but the universal purpose which under the 
circumstances can only be realized through a few. The 
hedging in of the few, the drawing of the lines so close, the 
method of exclusion again and again renewed all down the 
history of redemption, represents the love of the Divine 
Spirit ever baffled in the mass, preserving the truth of God in 
a ' remnant,' an elect body ; who themselves escaping- the 
corruption which is in the world, become in their turn a 
fresh centre from which the restorative influence can flow out 
upon mankind. Rejected in the world, He secures for 
Himself a sphere of operations in the Jews, isolating 
Abraham, giving the law for a hedge, keeping alive in the 
nation the sense of its vocation by the inspiration of 
prophets. Again and again baffled in the body of the 
Jewish nation, He falls back upon the faithful remnant, and 
keeps alive in them that prospective sonship which was 
meant to be the vocation of the whole nation : sometimes in 
narrower, sometimes in broader channels, the purpose of love 
moves on till the Spirit finds in the Son of Man, the 
Anointed One, the perfect realization of the destiny of man, 
the manhood in which He can freely and fully work : ' He 
came down upon the Son of God, made son of man, 
accustoming Himself in His case to dwell in the human race, 
and to repose in man, and to dwell in God's creatures, working 
out in them the will of the Father, and recovering them 
from their old nature into the newness of Christ V 
In Christ humanity is perfect, because in Him it retains no 
part of that false independence which, in all its manifold 
forms, is the secret of sin. In Christ humanity is perfect and 
complete, in ungrudging and unimpaired obedience to the 
movement of the Divine Spirit, Whose creation it was, Whose 

1 Athan. I.e. xii. 5, xliii. 4. y Iren. c. Har. iii. 17, i. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 321 

organ it gave itself to be. The Spirit anoints Him ; the 
Spirit drives Him into the wilderness ; the Spirit gives Him 
the law of His mission ; in the power of the Spirit He 
works His miracles ; in the Holy Spirit He lifts up the voice 
of human thankfulness to the Divine Father; in the Spirit 
He offers Himself without spot to God ; in the power of the 
Spirit He is raised from the dead 1 . All that perfect human 
life had been a life of obedience, of progressive obedience, a 
gradual learning in each stage of experience what obedience 
meant 2 ; it had been a life of obedience which became pro- 
pitiatory as it bore loyally, submissively, lovingly, all the 
heritage of pain and misery in which sin in its long history 
had involved our manhood, all the agony of that insult and 
rejection in which sin revealed itself by antagonism to Him 
bore it, and by bearing it turned it into the material of His 
accepted sacrifice. He was obedient unto death. And be- 
cause He thus made our human nature the organ of a life of 
perfect obedience, therefore He can go on to make that same 
humanity, freed from all the limitations of this lower world 
and glorified in the Spirit at the right hand of God, at once 
the organ of Divine supremacy over the universe of created 
things, and (itself become quickening Spirit 3 ) the fount to all 
the sons of obedience and faith of its own life. Christ is the 
second Adam, who having 'recapitulated the long develop- 
ment of humanity into Himself 4 ,' taken it up into Himself, 
that is, and healed its wounds and fructified its barrenness, 
gives it a fresh start by a new birth from Him. The Spirit 
coming forth at Pentecost out of His uplifted manhood, as 
from a glorious fountain of new life 5 , perpetuates all its 
richness, its power, its fulness in the organized society which 
He prepared and built for the Spirit's habitation. The 
Church, His Spirit-bearing body, comes forth into the world, 
not as the exclusive sphere of the Spirit's operations, for ' that 

1 S. Mark i. 10, 12. S. Luke iv. 3 i Cor. xv. 45, 'The last Adam 

i, 1 8 ; x. 21. S. Matt. xii. 28. Heb. ix. became a life-giving Spirit.' S. John 

14. Kom. viii. u. (These two last vi. (13, 'Spirit and Life.' 

passages at least imply the action of * Iren. iii. 18, i, and frequently 

the Holy Spirit in the Sacrifice and elsewhere. 

Resurrection of Christ.) Iren. iii. 24, i. Cf. H. C. G.IMoule's 

Heb. v. 7-10. Phil. ii. 8. Veni Creator, pp. 39-40. 

322 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

breath bloweth where it listeth 1 ;' but as the special and 
covenanted sphere of His regular and uniform operation, the 
place where He is pledged to dwell and to work ; the centre 
marked out and hedged in, whence ever and again proceeds 
forth anew the work of human recovery ; the home where, in 
spite of sin and imperfection, is ever kept alive the picture of 
what the Christian life is, that is, of what common human 
life is meant to be and can become. 

Of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church we may note 
four characteristics. 

i . It is social. It treats man as a ' social being,' who 
cannot realize himself in isolation. For no other reason 
than because grace is the restoration of nature 2 , the true, 
the redeemed humanity, is presented to us as a society or 
Church. This is apparent with reference to either of the 
gifts which summarize the essence of the Church's life, grace, 
or truth. Sacraments are the ordained instruments of grace, 
and sacraments are in one of their aspects social ceremonies 
of incorporation, or restoration, or bestowal of authority, or 
fraternal sharing of the bread of life. They presuppose a 
social organization. Those who have attempted to explain 
why there should be in the Church an apostolic succession 
of ministers, have seen the grounds of such appointment in the 
necessity for preserving in a catholic society, which lacks the 
natural links of race or language or common habitation, a 
visible and obligatory bond of association 3 . 

The same fact appears in reference to the truth, the 
knowledge of God and of the true nature and needs of man, 
which constitutes one main part of the Christian life. That 
too is no mere individual illumination. It is 'a rule of 
faith,' an ' apostolic tradition,' ' a pattern of sound words,' 
embodied in Holy Scripture and perpetuated in a teaching 
Church, within the scope of which each individual is to be 
brought to have his mind and conscience fashioned by it, 

1 S. John iii. 4. The intention of ' Grace is not the negation of nature, 

this passage is to express not that the but its restoration.' 

Spirit is lawless in His operations, but 3 Raymund of Sabunde, Then!. 

that He is beyond our control. tit. 303. 

3 Aug. de Spiritu et Litlera, xxvii. 47, 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 323 

normally from earliest years. It would be going beyond the 
province of this essay to stop to prove that from the 
beginnings of the Christian life, a man was understood to 
become a Christian and receive the benefits of redemption, 
by no other means than incorporation into the Christian 

2. But none the less on account of this social method the 
S2nrit nourishes individuality. The very idea of the Spirit's 
gift is that of an intenser life. Intenser life is more 
individualized life, for our life becomes richer and fuller only 
by the intensification of personality and character. Thus 
Christianity has always trusted to strongly marked character 
as the means by which religion is propagated. It does not 
advance as an abstract doctrine, but by the subtle, penetrating 
influences of personality. It is the illuminated man who 
becomes a centre of illumination. 'As clear transparent 
bodies if a ray of light fall on them become radiant them- 
selves and diffuse their splendour all around, so souls 
illuminated by the indwelling Spirit are rendered spiritual 
themselves and impart their grace to others V Thus, from the 
first, Christianity has tended to intensify individual life in a 
thousand ways, and has gloried in the varieties of disposition 
and character which the full life of the Spirit develops. The 
Church expects to see the same variety of life in herself as 
she witnesses in Nature. 

' One and the same rain,' says S. Cyril of Jerusalem to his 
catechumens, ' comes down upon all the world, yet it becomes 
white in the lily, and red in the rose, and purple in the 
violets and pansies, and different and various in all the 
several kinds ; it is one thing in the palm tree and another in 
the vine, and all in all things. In itself, indeed, it is uniform 
and changes not, but by adapting itself to the nature of each 
thing that receives it, it becomes what is appropriate to each. 
Thus also the Holy Ghost, one and uniform and undivided in 
Himself, distributes His grace to every man as He wills. He 
employs the tongue of one man for wisdom ; the soul of 

Basil, de Kpirilu Sancto ix. 23 Univ. Sermons, 'Personal Influence 
(Lewis' translation). Cf. Newman's the means of propagating the truth.' 

Y 2 

324 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

another He enlightens by prophecy ; to another He gives 
power to drive away devils ; to another He gives to 
interpret the Divine Scriptures ; He invigorates one man's self- 
command ; He teaches another the way to give alms ; another 
He teaches to fast and train himself ; another He trains for 
martyrdom ; diverse to different men, yet not diverse from 
Himself 1 .' 

Nor was this belief in the differences of the Spirit's work 
a mere abstract theory. In fact the Church life of the early 
centuries did present an aspect of great variety : not only 
in the dispositions of individuals, for that will always be 
observable where human nature is allowed to subsist, but in 
the types of life and thought cultivated in different parts of 
the Church. Early in the life of Christianity did something 
like the Roman type of Catholicism shew itself, but it 
shewed itself as one among several types of ecclesiasticism, 
easily distinguishable from what Alexandria or Africa or 
Antioch nourished and produced. 

And what is true in the life of religion as a whole is true 
in the department of the intellect. Here again the authority 
of the collective society, the ' rule of faith,' is meant to 
nourish and quicken, not to crush, individuality. Each 
individual Christian owes the profoundest deference to the 
common tradition. Thus to ' keep the traditions ' is at all 
times, and not least in Scripture, a common Christian ex- 
hortation. But this common tradition is not meant to be a 
merely external law. It is meant to pass by the ordinary 
processes of education into the individual consciousness, and 
there, because it represents truth, to impart freedom. Thus 
S. Paul speaks of the developed Christian, ' the man who is 
spiritual,' as 'judging all things and himself judged of none.' 
And S. John makes the ground of Christian certainty to 
lie not in an external authority, but in a personal gift: 'ye 
have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things ; ' 

1 Cyril, Catech. xvi. 1 2. The atten- Monast. 4. Also in the writings of 

tion to the differences of individual Gregory of Nazianzus, Chrysostom, 

character is very noticeable in S. and Gregory the Great on the Pastoral 

Basil's monastic rule : see the Rcgulae Office, 
fusius tractatae, resp. 1 9, and the Constit. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 325 

' ye need not that any one teach you V There is then an 
individual 'inspiration 2 ,' as well as an inspiration of the 
whole body, only this inspiration is not barely individual 
or separatist. As it proceeds out of the society, so it ends 
in it. It ends by making each person more individualized, 
more developed in personal characteristics, but for that very 
reason more conscious of his own incompleteness, more ready 
to recognise himself as only one member of the perfect 

The idea of authority is in fact a perfectly simple one. It 
never received better expression than by Plato when he 
describes it as the function of the society by a carefully 
regulated education to implant right instincts, right affections 
and antipathies, in the growing mind of the child, at a time 
when he cannot know the reason of things : in order that as 
the mind develops it may recognise the right reason of things 
by a certain inner kinship, and welcome truth as a friend 3 . 
Authority, according to such a view of it, is a necessary school- 
ing of the individual temperament. Thus, we are told that 
in the judgment of the philosopher Hegel, ' The basis of sound 
education was . . . the submission of the mind to an external 
lesson, which must be learnt by every one, and even learnt by 
rote, with utter disregard of individual tastes and desires ; 
only out of this self-abnegation, and submission to be guided 
and taught, could any originality spring which was worth 
preserving 4 .' In fact, we all recognise the necessity for such 
external discipline in all departments. Few people like good 
art, for instance, at first. Probably they are attracted by 
what is weak but arrests attention by obvious and superficial 
merits. The standards which artistic authority has erected, 
the accepted canons of good taste and judgment, do not com- 
mend themselves at first as right or natural. But modest and 
well-disposed people take it for granted at starting that the 
orthodox judgment will turn out to be right ; and they set 
themselves to school to learn why the artists and poets of 

1 i Cor. ii. 15. i S. John ii. 20- 3 Republic, 401 D, 402 A. 

27. * Caird's Hegel (^Blackwood's Philo- 

2 Clement Alex. Strom, v. 13. 88. sophical Classics), p. 72. 

326 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

great name are great, till their own judgment becomes en- 
lightened, and they understand what at first they took on 
trust. It was the instinctive perception of this function of 
authority which made the Church insist so much on the 
principle ' credo ut intelligam.' The Creed represents the 
catholic judgment, the highest knowledge of God and the 
spiritual life granted to man by the Divine Revelation. Let 
a man put himself to school in the Church with reverence and 
godly fear, and his own judgment will become enlightened. 
He will come to say with S. Anselm, ' I give thee thanks, good 
Lord ; because what first I believed by Thy gift, I now under- 
stand by Thy illumination V 

Such an idea of authority leaves much for the individual to 
do. It is the reaction of the individual on the society which 
is to keep the common tradition pure and unnarrowed. The 
Church has in Holy Scripture the highest expression of 
the mind of Christ. The familiarity of all its members with 
this flawless and catholic image is to ward off in each genera- 
tion that tendency to deteriorate and to become materialised 
which belongs to all ' traditions.' The individual illumination 
is thus to react as a purifying force upon the common mind of 
the Christian society. The individual Christian is to pay the 
debt of his education, by himself ' testing all things and hold- 
ing fast that which is good.' Specially gifted individuals 
from time to time will be needed to effect more or less sudden 
' reversions to type,' to the undying type of apostolic teaching 2 . 
But such a true reformer is quite distinct in idea from the 
heretic. He reforms ; he does not innovate. His note is to 
restore ; not to reject. And the absence of necessity for funda- 

1 Anselm. Proslog. 4 ; he adds, 'So assign to having such an authoritative 
that even if I were unwilling to believe standard of the right time does not 
that Thou art, I could not cease to prevent our recognising the import- 
understand it.' But the whole rela- ance of having it regulated. 'And if 
tion of authority and reason is most we desired to remove an error which 
completely grasped and stated by had accumulated during a long season 
S. Augustine : see Cunningham, of neglect, it would be very unfair to 
S. Austin (Cambridge Univ. Press, represent us as wishing to silence the 
1886), pp. 9, 157 S. clock, or else as wishing to allow every 

2 Dr. Salmon, Infallibility, p. 115, townsman to get up and push the 
has a clever comparison of the hands backwards and forwards as he 
authority of the Church to that pleased.' 

of the town clock. The value we 

viu. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 327 

mental rejection comes from this simple fact, that the Christian 
Creed is rational and true. If any man comes to us and says 
that he has studied and assimilated the Christian Creed with 
all the care and reverence in his ability, and has rejected it be- 
cause he finds it irrational and false, we cannot complain of him 1 . 
We cannot ask him to accept it though he thinks it false. 
We do not at all complain of his having inquired and thought 
freely only we venture to assure him, with a confidence 
which can hardly fail to be irritating, because it is confident, 
that he is mistaken, that he has thought not only freely, but 
erroneously. When Christianity adopts, as in the modern 
Romanist system, a different tone, proscribing free inquiry as 
' rationalistic,' and making the appeal to antiquity, in order to 
test the present teaching of the Church, a 'treason and a 
heresy 2 ,' it is abjuring its own rational heritage, and adopt- 
ing a method which Charles Kingsley had good reason to call 
Manichaean. It is the test of the Church's legitimate tenure 
that she can encourage free inquiry into her title-deeds. 

3. Thirdly, the Spirit claims for His own, and consecrates the 
whole of nature. One Spirit was the original author of all 
that is ; and all that exists is in its essence very good. It is 
only sin which has produced the appearance of antagonism 
between the Divine operation and human freedom, or between 
the spiritual and the material. Thus the humanity of Christ, 
which is the Spirit's perfect work, exhibits in its perfection 
how every faculty of human nature, spiritual and physical, is 
enriched and vitalized, not annihilated, by the closest con- 
ceivable interaction of the Divine Energy. This principle, as 
carried out in the Church, occupies a prominent place in the 
earliest theology ; in part because Montanism, with its pagan 
idea of inspiration, as an ecstasy which deprived its subject of 
reason, gave the Church an opportunity of emphasizing that 
the fullest action of the Spirit, in the case of her inspired men, 
intensified and did not supersede their own thought, judgment, 
and individuality ; still more because Gnostic dualism, turning 
every antithesis of nature and grace, of spirit and flesh, of 

1 But cf. pp. 196-8, 229-232, 258-260. 

2 Manning, Temporal Mission of the Holy GJiost, third edit. pp. 9, 29, 238-240. 

328 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

natural and supernatural, into an antagonism, forced upon the 
Church the assertion of her own true and comprehensive 
Creed. That everything in Christianity is realized ' in flesh as 
in spirit ' is the constantly reiterated cry of S. Ignatius, who of 
all men was most ' spiritual.' That the spiritual is not the 
immaterial, that we become spiritual not by any change or 
curtailment of nature, not by any depreciation or ignoring of 
the body, is the constantly asserted principle of S. Irenaeus *. 
And the earliest writers in general emphasize the visible 
organization of the Church, and the institution of external 
sacraments, as negations of the false principle which would 
sunder nature from God, and repudiate the unity of the 
material and the spiritual which the Word had been made 
Flesh in order to reveal and to perpetuate. 

4. But the unity of the spirit and the flesh, of faith and ex- 
perience, of God and the world, is certainly not an accomplished 
fact. On the contrary, dualism is always making appeals 
which strike home to our present experience. Thus if the 
Church was to maintain the unity of all things, it could only 
be by laying great stress upon the ravages which sin had 
wrought, and upon the gradualness of the Spirit's method in 
recovery. The Old Testament, for example, presented a 
most unspiritual appearance. Its material sacrifices, its low 
standard of morals, its worldliness, were constantly being 
objected to by the Gnostic and Manichaean sects, who could 
not tolerate the Old Testament canon. ' But you are ignor- 
ing,' the Church replied, ' the gradualness of the Spirit's 
method.' He lifts man by little and little, He condescends to 
man's infirmity : He puts up with him as he is, if only He can 
at the last bring him back to God. 

1 See, for instance, c. Haer. v. 10, 2. proved condition, and is no longer 
'The wild olive does not change its described as flesh and blood, but as 
substance [when it is grafted in, see a spiritual man.' So also v. 6, i, 
Rom. xi. 17], but only the quality of 'whom the apostle calls ''spiritual" 
its fruit, and takes a new name, no because they have the Spirit, not be- 
longer being called an oleaster but an cause they have been robbed of the 
olive ; so also man when he is by faith flesh and become bare spirit.' It is 
grafted in, and receives the Spirit of the recognition of this principle that 
God, does not lose his fleshly sub- makes most of the language of the 
stance, but changes the quality of the Fathers on fasting so healthy and 
works which are his fruits, and takes sensible. The end of fasting is not to 
another name indicating his im- destroy the flesh, but to free the spirit. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 329 

It is of the essence of the New Testament, as the religion 
of the Incarnation, to be final and catholic : on the other hand, 
it is of the essence of the Old Testament to be imperfect 
because it represents a gradual process of education by which 
man was lifted out of depths of sin and ignorance. That this is 
the case, and that in consequence the justification of the Old 
Testament method lies not in itself at any particular stage, but 
in its result taken as a whole, is a thought very familiar to 
modern Christians \ But it is important to make plain that it 
was a thought equally familiar to the Fathers of the Christian 
Church. Thus S. Gregory of Nazianzus, speaking of God's 
dealings with the Jews of old, describes how, in order to gain 
the co-operation of man's good will in working for his recovery, 
He dealt ' after the manner of a schoolmaster or a physician, 
and while curtailing part of their ancestral customs, tolerated 
the rest, making some concession to their tastes, just as 
physicians make their medicines palatable that they may be 
taken by their patients. For men do not easily abandon 
what long custom has consecrated. Thus the first law, while 
it abolished their idols, tolerated their sacrifices ; the second, 
while it abolished their sacrifices, allowed them to be circum- 
cised : then when once they had accepted the removal of what 
was taken from them, the} 7 went further and gave up what 
had been conceded to them in the first case their sacrifices, 
in the second their practice of circumcision and they became 
instead of heathens, Jews, instead of Jews, Christians, being 
betrayed as it were by gradual changes into acceptance of the 
Gospel 2 .' Again, S. Chrysostom explains how it is the very 
merit of the Old Testament that it has taught us to think 
things intolerable, which under it were tolerated. ' Do not 
ask,' he says, ' how these (Old Testament precepts) can be good, 

1 See especially Mozley's Lectures on tion of the Ten Commandments was 
the Old Testament, x. : 'The end the too spiritual : so Jerome in I*ai. 1,12, 
test of progressive revelation.' In Jer. vii. 21. Cf. Justin, Trypho 19. 

2 Greg. Naz. Omt. xxxi. 25. Many Chrys. adv. Jud. iv. 6. Epiphan. Ilaer. 
of the greatest of the ancient Christian Ixvi. 71. Constt. ap. i. 6; vi. 20. 
writers depreciate the sacrificial law This method of interpretation is 
as A mere concession, made to avoid perhaps derived from the Epistle of 
worse things, when the incident of Barnabas, 2-4. 

the calf shewed that the first legisla- 

33O The Religion of the Incarnation. 

now when the need for them is past : ask how they were good 
when the period required them. Or rather, if you wish, do 
inquire into their merit even now. It is still conspicuous, and 
lies in nothing so much as what now enables us to find fault 
with them. Their highest praise is that we now see them to 
be defective. If they had not trained us well, so that we 
became susceptible of higher things, we should not have now 
seen their deficiency.' Then he shews how under the old law 
swearing by the true God was allowed to avoid swearing by 
idols, the worse ill. ' But is not swearing at all of the evil 
one ? ' he asks. ' Undoubtedly, now, after this long course of 
training, but then not. And how can the same thing be good 
at one time and bad at another ? I ask rather, how should it 
not be so, when we have regard to the plain teaching of the 
fact of growth in all things, fruits of the earth or acquirements 
of man? Look at man's own nature; the food, the occupations 
which suit his infancy, are repulsive to his manhood. Or 
consider facts of history. All agree that murder is an inven- 
tion of Satan, yet this very act at a suitable time made Phineas 
to be honoured with the high priesthood. Phineas' murder 
" was reckoned to him for righteousness." Just in the same 
way Abraham obtained an even higher honour for being not 
a murderer only but what was much worse, a child-murderer. 
We must not then look at the facts in themselves only, but in- 
vestigate with attention the period also, the cause, the motive, 
the difference of persons, and all the attendant circumstances : 
so only can one get at the truth V 

Once more S. Basil : ' Surely it is absolutely infantile and 
worthy of a child who must be really fed on milk, to be ignor- 
ant of the great mystery of our salvation that just as we 
received our earliest instruction, so, in exercising unto god- 
liness and going on unto perfection, we were first trained by 
lessons easy to apprehend and suited to our intelligence. He 
Who regulates our lives deals with us as those who have been 
reared in darkness, and gradually accustoms our eyes to the 
light of truth. For He spares our weakness, and in the depth 

1 Chrys. in Matfh. Homil. xvii. 5-6 Faustin. et Marcellin. in Bibl. Vet. Patrum. 
(slightly abbreviated). Cf. Libell. torn. v. 657 d. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 331 

of the riches of His wisdom and the unsearchable judgments of 
His understanding adopts this gentle treatment, so well adapted 
to our needs, accustoming us first to see the shadow of objects, 
and to look at the sun's reflection in water, so that we may not 
be suddenly blinded by the exposure to the pure light. By 
parity of reasoning, the law being a shadow of things to come, 
and the typical teaching of the prophets, which is the truth 
darkly, have been devised as exercises for the eyes of the 
heart, inasmuch as it will be easy for us to pass from these to 
wisdom hidden in mystery V 

In the same spirit was the Church's answer to the difficulties 
which facts of personal experience were constantly putting in 
the way of her claims. Churchmen were frequently seen to 
be vulgar, ignorant, imperfect, sinful. If, in spite of manifold 
evils existing within her, the Church could still appeal to her 
fruits, it must be by comparison with what was to be found 
elsewhere, or by taking in a large area for comparison, or by 
appealing to her special grounds of hope. In fact, what she 
represented was a hope, not a realization ; a tendency, not a 
result ; a life in process, not a ripened fruit. But then she 
claimed that this was God's way. ' He loves us not as we are, 
but as we are becoming 2 .' Let but a man once lay hold of 
the life-giving principle of faith, and God sets a value on him, 
life has a promise for him, altogether out of proportion to 
present attainments. For God estimates him, in view of all 
the forces of a new life which are set loose to work upon him, 
and he can assure himself that the movement of recovery which 
he has begun to feel stirring within him will carry him on 
through eternal ages, beyond what he can ask or think. 

It is because of this gradualness of the Spirit's method that 
it lays so great a strain on human patience. The spiritually- 
minded of all ages have tended to find the visible Church a 
very troubled and imperfect home. Most startling disclo- 
sures of the actual state of ecclesiastical disorder and moral 

1 On the Holy Spirit, xiv. 33 (Lewis' trine of ' imputation ' so far as it is 
trans.). true. God deals with us, e.g. in 

2 Aug. de Trin. i. 10, 21. This prin- absolution, by anticipation of what is 
ciple alone gives a basis for the doc- to come about in us, in Christ, 

332 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

collapse, may be gathered out of the Christian Fathers. Thus 
to found a ' pure Church ' has been the instinct of impatient 
zeal since Tertullian's day. But the instinct has to be re- 
strained, the visible Church has to be borne with, because it 
is the Spirit's purpose to provide a home for the training and 
improvement of the imperfect. ' Let both grow together 
unto the harvest.' ' A bruised reed will He not break, and 
smoking flax will He not quench.' The Church must have 
her terms of communion, moral and intellectual : this is es- 
sential to keep her fundamental principles intact, and to pre- 
vent her betraying her secret springs of strength and recovery. 
But short of this necessity she is tolerant. It is her note to 
be tolerant, morally and theologically. She is the mother, not 
the magistrate. No doubt her balanced duty is one difficult 
to fulfil. At times she has been puritanical, at others morally 
lax ; at times doctrinally lax, at others rigid. But however 
well or ill she has fulfilled the obligations laid on her, this is 
her ideal. She is the guardian, the depository of a great gift, 
a mighty presence, which in its essence is unchanging and 
perfect, but is realized very imperfectly in her experience and 
manifested life. This is what S. Thomas Aquinas means 
when he says ' that to believe in the Church is only possible 
if we mean by it to believe in the Spirit vivifying the Church 1 / 
The true self of the Church is the Holy Spirit, but a great 
deal in the Church at any date does not belong to her true 
self, and is obscuring the Spirit's mind. Thus the treasure is 
in earthen vessels, it is sometimes a light hid under a bushel ; 
and the Church is the probation of faith, as well as its en- 

It will not be out of place to conclude this review of the 
Spirit's method in the Church by calling attention to the 
emphasis which, from the first, Christians laid upon the fact 
that the animating principle both of their individual lives 
and of their society as a whole, was nothing less than the 
Holy Spirit Himself. To know Him was (as against all the 
philosophical schools, and in a sense in which the same could 
not be said even of the Divine Word) their peculiar privilege, to 

1 Thorn. Aq. Summa Theol. pars sec. sec. Qu. i. Art. ix. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 333 

possess Him their summary characteristic. Under the old cove- 
nant, and in all the various avenues of approach to the Church, 
men could be the subjects of the Spirit's guidance and could 
be receiving gifts from Him ; but the ' initiated ' Christian, 
baptized and confirmed, possessed not merely His gifts but 
Himself. He is in the Church, as the ' Vicar of Christ,' in 
Whose presence Christ Himself is with them. He is the 
consecrator of every sacrament, and the substance of His 
own sacramental gifts. The services of ordained men indeed 
are required for the administration of sacraments, but as 
ministers simply of a Power higher than themselves, of a 
Personal Spirit Who indeed is invoked by their ministry, 
and pledges Himself to respond to their invocations, but 
never subjects Himself to their power. Therefore the un- 
worthiness of the minister diminishes in no way the efficacy 
of the sacrament, or the reality of the gift given, because the 
ministry of men neither creates the gift nor adds to or 
diminishes its force. He is the giver of the gift, and the 
gift He gives is the same to all. Only the meagreness of 
human faith and love restrains the largeness of His bounty 
and conditions the Thing received by the narrowness and 
variability of the faculty which receives it. According to our 
faith is it done to us, and where there is no faith and no love 
there the grace is equally, in S. Augustine's phrase, present 
and profitless J . 

II. In something of this way the early Christian writers 
and it has seemed better to let them speak for us teach the 
doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What they teach is grounded 

1 The above paragraph is a summary the gift of Himself. Ep. cxciv. : ' aliter 

of expressions constantly met with in adiuvat nondum inhabitans, aliter 

the Fathers. It is S. Ambrose who inhabitans : nam nondum inhabitans 

protests against the idea that the priest adiuvat ut sint fideles, iiihabitans 

can be spoken of as having power over adiuvat iam fideles.' Didymus, de 

the Divine Things which he ministers, Spiritu Sancto 15, calls attention to the 

see De Spiritu Sancto, praef. 18, lib. i. distinction in the New Testament 

ii, 118: ' nostra sunt servitia sed tua between irvtv^a (without the article) 

sacrann iita. Xeque enim humanae i.e. ' a spiritual gift,' and TO -nvev^a, 

opis est divina conferre.' S. Augus- i.e. the Spirit Himself: cf. Westcott 

tine, among others, draws the distinc- on S. John vii. 39. 
tioii between gifts from the Spirit and 

334 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

in part on actual experience, in part on the revelation of the 
being and action of God made once for all in the Person of 
Jesus Christ and recorded in the New Testament. On this 
mingled basis of experience and Holy Scripture they passed 
back from the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as He is operative 
in the world, to the Theology of His Person. They passed 
back but slowly, with great hesitation, even unwillingness. 
Nothing, we may say, was further removed from the Fathers 
than the easy-going assumption that because we are the 
subjects of a revelation, therefore we are able to speculate 
with tolerably complete information about the mysteries 
which lie beyond experience. The truth that ' we know in 
part,' we see ' in a glass darkly,' was profoundly impressed 
upon their minds. God manifested Himself, S. Gregory of 
Nazianzus tells, in such a way as to escape the nets of our 
syllogisms, and to shew Himself superior to our logical dis- 
tinctions. If we expect to find our logic equal to express 
Him, we shew only our mad presumption, ' we who are not 
able even to know what lies at our feet, or to count the waves 
of the sea, or the drops of rain, or the days of the world, 
much less to fathom the depths of God, and give account of 
His nature which transcends alike our reason and our power 
of expression V Besides this, the early theologians realized 
the obligation of keeping to Holy Scripture of not being 
wise ' above that which is written ' and they were conscious 
of the danger of building on isolated texts of Scripture or of 
treating its ' simple and untechnical ' language as if it was the 
language of a formal treatise 2 . 

For these reasons they were cautious in theological specula- 
tion. Yet the facts and relationships introduced into the world 
of experience by the revelation of the Son represent eternal 
realities, if under great limitations yet still truly, and thus 
make possible a real security up to a certain point on what 
lies beyond the unassisted human knowledge. Thus, first, 
when the Arian movement passed from the denial of the true 

1 Greg. Naz. Orat. xxxi. 8. v. 13, 2. Basil, de Spiritu Sancto, 

8 See Athim. Epp ad Serapion. i. iii. 5. 
17. Cyril Hieros. Cat. xvi. 24. Iren. 

viu. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 335 

Godhead of Christ to a similar position with reference to the 
Holy Spirit, the Christian Church felt itself fully justified 
alike by its past traditions *, and by its Scriptures, in empha- 
sizing the personal distinctness and the true Godhead of the 
Holy Spirit. Unless all Christ's language was an illusion, 
the Holy Spirit was really personal and really distinct from 
Himself and the Father ; nor could One who was associated 
with the Father and the Son in all the essentially Divine 
operations of nature and grace, be less than truly and really 
God, an essential element in the Eternal Being. The Arian 
controversy in its earlier stages had disposed of the notion that 
Christian theology could at any cost admit the conception of 
a created personality, clothed with Divine attributes and 
exercising Divine functions. 

Secondly, the consideration that the relations manifested in 
the Incarnation in terms of our experience between the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, express transcendent 
and eternal relations, led the Church to speak of the Holy 
Ghost as proceeding from the Father, as the unique fount of 
Godhead, through the Son : or in somewhat less nicely dis- 
criminated language ' from the Father and the Son V In the 
fifth century there is a tendency to use in the East the former, 
in the West the latter mode of expression, but without any 
essential difference. Nor can it be said that the causes which 
were at work later to divide the Eastern and the Western 
Churches on the subject of the procession of the Holy Ghost, 
were so much really theological as ecclesiastical and 

Thirdly, the accurate consideration of the language in 
which is expressed the relation of Christ to the Holy Spirit, 
helped the Church to guard the doctrine of the Trinity from 
the associations of Tritheism. For the coming of the Holy 
Spirit is clearly spoken of in Holy Scripture as coincident 
with and involving the coming of Christ. ' While we are 
illuminated by the Holy Spirit, it is Christ who illuminates 

1 The Diet, of Clir. Biog., Art. HOLY subject. 

GHOST (by Dr. Swete\ has an admir- 2 See Godet on S. John xv. 26, 27. 

able summary of the theology of the 


336 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

us : when we drink in the Spirit, it is Christ we drink.' The 
Spirit is distinct from Christ ' another Paraclete ' yet in 
His coming. Christ comes : in His indwelling is the indwelling 
of the Father and the Son l . How can this be ? Because the 
' Persons ' of the Holy Trinity are not to be thought of as dis- 
tinct individuals, as three Gods. No doubt in our ordinary 
language, persons are understood to be separate, and mutually 
exclusive beings. Even in regard to ourselves deeper reflection 
shews us that our personalities are very far from being as 
separate as they appear to be on the surface : and with 
regard to God, it was only with an expressed apology for the 
imperfection of human language that the Church spoke of the 
Divine Three, as Three Persons at all. But ; we have no celestial 
language,' and the word is the only one which will express 
what Christ's language implies about Himself, the Father, 
and the Spirit. Only while we use it, it must be understood 
to express mutual inclusion, not mutual exclusion. 

Wherever the Father works, He works essentially and 
inevitably through the Son and the Spirit ; whenever the Son 
acts, He acts from the Father by the Holy Spirit ; whenever 
the Holy Spirit comes, He brings with Him in His coming 
the Son and the Father. Thus when an image was necessary 
to interpret in part the Divine relationships, the Fathers 
sought it nowhere so much as in the three distinct yet 
inseparable elements of man's spiritual nature ; the triune 
character of which Plato had already brought into notice, and 
which is in fact an earthly image, however inadequate, of the 
Triune God 2 . 

1 Athan. Epp. ad Scrap, i. 19. S. upon Himself,' 'the bond of the 
John xiv. 1 6, 18, 23. Father and the Son.' This eternal 

2 Plato's human trinity is made up function would interpret His tem- 
of reason, spirit [0vfj.6s], and desire : S. poral mission to bring all creatures 
Augustine's of memory (i. e. personal back into union with God. Not very 
identity), reason, and will ; or mind, differently S. Augustine speaks of 
knowledge, and love. Nothing has Him as the Love of the Father and 
been said in the text of Patristic and the Son : ' Vides Trinitatem si cari- 
more recent attempts to express the tatem vides. Ecce tria sunt ; amans 
function of the Holy Spirit in the et quod amatur et amor.' And 
inner relations of the Trinity. Some this Love is itself personal and co- 
of the Fathers speak of the Holy ordinate : ' commune aliquid est 
Spirit as completing the circle of the Patris et Filii ; at ipsa communio 
Divine Life, or as ' the return of God consubstantialis et coaeterna.' But 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 337 

III. Hitherto nothing has been said about that part of 
the Holy Spirit's work which is called the inspiration of 
Scripture. It has been kept to the last because of the great 
importance of putting it in context with less familiar truths. 
The Scriptures have, it is a commonplace to say, suffered 
greatly from being isolated. This is as true whether we are 
considering them as a source of evidence or as the sphere of 

As a source of evidence they contain the record of historical 
facts with some of which at any rate the Creed of Christendom 
is inseparably interwoven. Thus it is impossible for Christians 
who know what they are about, to depreciate the import- 
ance of the historical evidence for those facts at least of 
which the Creed contains a summary. But the tendency with 
books of historical evidence has been, at least till recently, to 
exaggerate the extent to which the mere evidence of remote 
facts can compel belief. What we should make of the New 
Testament record, what estimate we should be able to form 
of the Person of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His life and 
work, if it was contained simply in some old manuscripts, or 
unearthed in some way by antiquaries out of the Syrian 
sand, it is impossible to say. In order to have grounds for 
believing the facts, in order to be susceptible of their evidence, 
we require an antecedent state of conception and expecta- 
tion. A whole set of presuppositions about God, about the 
slavery of sin, about the reasonableness of redemption, must 

in such speculation they allow them- 
selves with ' much reserve and ex- 
pression of unwillingness. 

In fact it is easy to see that an 
eternally living God, knowing and 
loving, must be a God Whose Being 
involves eternal relationships. Know- 
ledge involves a relation of subject 
and object : to make love possible 
there must be a lover and a loved. 
It is more difficult to see how a 
perfect relationship must be three- 
fold ; but there are true lines of 
thought which lead up to this, such, 
for instance, as make us see first in the 
family, the type of complete life. 
Love which is only a relation of two, 

is selfish or unsatisfied : it demands 
an object and a product of mutual love. 
See especially Richard of S. Victor, 
de Trin. Pars i. lib. iii. cc. 14, 15 : 
'Communio amoris non potest esse 
omnino minus quam in tribus perso- 
nis. Nihil autem (ut dictum est) glori- 
osius,nihil magnificentius,quam quic- 
quid babes utile et dulce in cnnunniii' 
</' '/i/i'i'i-e: . . . . hujusmodi dulcedinis 
delicias solus non possidet qui in 
exhibita sibi dilectione socium et con- 
dileclum non habet ; quamdiu con- 
diledum non habet, praecipui gaudii 
communione caret.' See also Sarto- 
rius, Doctrine of Divine Love (Clark's 
Foreign Theol. Libr.), p. 16. 

338 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

be present with us. So only can the facts presented to us in 
the Gospel come to us as credible things, or as parts of an 
intelligible universe, correlated elements in a rational whole. 
Now the work of the Spirit in the Church has been to keep 
alive and real these presuppositions, this frame of mind. He 
convinces of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. He does this 
not merely in isolated individuals however numerous, but in 
an organized continuous society. The spiritual life of the 
Church assures me that in desiring union with God, in 
feeling the burden of sin, in hungering for redemption, I am 
not doing an eccentric, abnormal thing. I am doing only 
what belongs to the best and richest movement of humanity. 
More than this, it assures me that assent to the claims and 
promises of Jesus Christ satisfies these spiritual needs in such 
a way as to produce the strongest, the most lasting, the most 
catholic sort of human character. The historical life of the 
Church thus in every age ' setting to its seal ' that God's offer 
in Christ is true, reproduces the original ' witness,' commends 
it to conscience and reason, spans the gulf of the ages, and 
brings down remote and alien incidents into close and in- 
telligible familiarity. Lotze speaks of revelation as ' either 
contained in some divine act of historic occurrence, or con- 
tinually repeated in men's hearts 1 .' But in fact the antithesis 
is not an alternative. The strength of the Christian Creed is 
that it is both. It is a revelation continuously renewed in 
men's hearts by an organized and systematic operation of the 
Spirit in the Church, while at the same time it finds its 
guarantee and security in certain Divine acts of historic 

Once more, the belief in the Holy Scriptures as inspired re- 
quires to be held in context by the belief in the general action 
of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian society and the individual 
soul. It is, we may perhaps say, becoming more and more 
difficult to believe in the Bible without believing in the 
Church. The Apostles, indeed, and the New Testament 
canon consists largely of the words of Apostles have an 
authority which, reasonably considered, is unique, and stands 

1 Microcosmus, B. ix. C. iv. (E. T. vol. ii. p. 660.) 

vni. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 339 

by itself as that of the accredited witnesses of Christ ; but when 
we find them appealing to members of the Church, they 
appeal not as the possessors of an absolute authority or of a 
Spirit in which others do not share. They are the ministers 
of a ' tradition ' to which they themselves are subject, a tradition 
' once for all delivered 1 :' they appeal to those who hear them 
as men ' who have an unction from the Holy One and know 
all things.' The tone in fact of the apostolic writers forces 
us to regard the spirit in which the Church lives, as co-operat- 
ing with, and in a real sense limiting, the spirit in which they 
themselves speak and write. Thus in fact the apostolic 
writings were written as occasion required, within the Church, 
and for the Church. They presuppose membership in it 
and familiarity with its tradition. They are secondary, not 
primary, instructors ; for edification, not for initiation. Nor, 
in fact, can a hard and fast line be drawn between what lies 
within and what lies without the canon. For example, 
Protestantism of an unecclesiastical sort has built upon the 
Epistle to the Hebrews as much as upon any book of the 
New Testament. This book is of unknown authorship. If 
' Pauline ' it is pretty certainly not S. Paul's. In large part it 
is the judgment of the Church which enables us to draw a 
line between it and S. Clement's ' scripture.' The line indeed 
our own judgment approves. The Epistle to the Hebrews 
and S. Clement's letter are closely linked together, but the 
latter depends on the former : it is secondary and the other 
is primary. Yet how narrow is the historical interval between 
them. How impossible to tear the one from the other. How 
seemingly irrational to attribute absolute authority to the 
anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews which represents apostolic 
teaching at second hand 2 , and then to interpret it in a sense 
hostile to the Epistle of Clement, which represents exactly 
the same stream of apostolic teaching only one short stage 
lower down. For Clement interprets the high priesthood of 
Christ in a sense which, instead of excluding, makes it the 
basis of, the ministerial hierarchy of the Church. Or to put 
the matter more broadly, how irrational it is, considering 

1 See especially Gal. i. 8, 9. 2 Heb. ii. 3. 

/< 2, 

340 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

the intimate links by which the New Testament canon 
is bound up with the historic Church, not to accept the 
mind of the Church, especially when we have its consent 
down independent lines of tradition, as interpreting the 
mind of the apostolic writers. Most rational surely is 
the attitude of the early Church towards Scripture. The 
Scripture was regarded as the highest utterance of the Spirit, 
the unique and constant test of the Church's life and teaching. 
But the Spirit in the Church interpreted the meaning of 
Scripture. Thus the Church taught and the Scripture tested 
and verified or corrected her teaching : and this because all 
was of one piece, the life of the Church including the Scrip- 
tures, the inspired writers themselves appealing to the Spirit 
in the Churches 1 . 

And now, what is to be said about this, at present, much 
controverted subject of the inspiration of Holy Scripture? 
What does the doctrine imply, and what attitude does belief 
in it involve towards the modern critical treatment of the 
inspired literature 1 

i. Let us bear carefully in mind the place which the 
doctrine holds in the building up of a Christian faith. It is 
in fact an important part of the superstructure, but it is not 
among the bases of the Christian belief. The Christian creed 
asserts the reality of certain historical facts. To these facts, 
in the Church's name, we claim assent : but we do so on 
grounds which, so far, are quite independent of the inspiration 
of the evangelic records. All that we claim to shew at this 
stage is that they are historical : not historical so as to be 
absolutely without error, but historical in the general sense, 
so as to be trustworthy. All that is necessary for faith in 
Christ is to be found in the moral dispositions which pre- 
dispose to belief, and make intelligible and credible the thing 
to be believed : coupled with such acceptance of the generally 
historical character of the Gospels, and of the trustworthiness 

1 See further on the fatal results 118; or quoted by Hare, Mission of the 

of separating tho Spirit's work in Comforter, Note H. vol. ii. pp. 468, 

Scripture, from His work in the 474. 
Church, Coleridge, Remains iii. 93, iv. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 341 

of the other apostolic documents, as justifies belief that our 
Lord was actually born of the Virgin Mary, manifested as 
the Son of God ' with power according to a spirit of holiness,' 
crucified, raised again the third day from the dead, exalted to 
the right hand of the Father, the founder of the Church and 
the source to it of the informing Spirit. 

In all this no claim is made for any special belief as to the 
method of the Spirit's work in the Scripture or in the Church. 
Logically such belief follows, does not precede, belief in Christ. 
Indeed, in the past, Christian apologists have made a great 
mistake in allowing opponents to advance as objections 
against the historical character of the Gospel narrative, what 
are really objections not against its historical character not 
such as could tell against the substantially historical character 
of secular documents but against a certain view of the mean- 
ing of inspiration. Let it be laid down then that Christianity 
brings with it indeed a doctrine of the inspiration of Holy 
Scriptures, but is not based upon it 1 . 

2. But such a doctrine it does bring with it. Our Lord and 
His Apostles are clearly found to believe and to teach that the 
Scriptures of the Old Testament were given by inspiration of 
God ; and the Christian Church from the earliest days postu- 
lated the same belief about the Scriptures of the New Testa- 
ment. To disbelieve that ' the Scriptures were spoken by the 
Holy Ghost,' was equivalent to being ' an unbeliever 2 .' 

Thus, when once a man finds himself a believer in Christ, 
he will find himself in a position where alike the authority of 
his Master and the ' communis sensus ' of the society he belongs 
to, give into his hand certain documents and declare them 

3. What in its general idea does this mean ? 

S. Athanasius expresses the function of the Jews in the world 
in a luminous phrase, when he describes them as having been 
the ' sacred school for all the world of the knowledge of God 
and of the spiritual life ''.' Every race has its special vocation, 

1 This distinction was drawn by H. E. v. 28. 

Bishop Clifford, Fortnightly Review, 3 Athan. de Incarn. 12. Cf. Ewald's 

Jan. 1887, p. 145. preface to his History of Israel. 

2 Cf. the quotation in Eusebius, 

342 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

and we recognise in the great writers of each race the inter- 
preters of that vocation. They are specially gifted individuals, 
but not merely individuals. The race speaks in them : Rome 
is interpreted by Virgil, and Greece by Aeschylus or Plato. 
Now every believer in God must see in these special missions 
of races, a Divine inspiration. If we can once get down to the 
bottom of human life, below its pride, its wilfulness, its pre- 
tentiousness, down to its essence, we get to God and to a move- 
ment of His Spirit x . Thus every race has its inspiration and 
its prophets. 

But the inspiration of the Jews was supernatural. What 
does this mean ? That the Jews were selected not to be 
the school for humanity in any of the arts and sciences which 
involve the thought of God only indirectly, and can therefore 
be carried on without a fundamental restoration of man into 
that relation to God which sin had clouded or broken, but to 
be the school of that fundamental restoration itself. There- 
fore, in the case of the Jews the inspiration is both in itself 
more direct and more intense, and also involves a direct con- 
sciousness on the part of its subjects. In the race, indeed, the 
consciousness might be dim ; but the consciousness, as the 
prophets all assure us, did belong to the race, and not merely 
to its individual interpreters. They speak as recalling the 
people to something which they know, or ought to know, 
not as preachers of a new religion. They were ' the con- 
science of the state 2 .' But special men, prophets, psalmists, 
moralists, historians, were thus the inspired interpreters of the 
Divine message to and in the race : and their inspiration lies 
in this, that they were the subjects of a movement of the Holy 
Ghost, so shaping, controlling, quickening their minds and 
thoughts and aspirations, as to make them the instruments 
through which was imparted 'the knowledge of God and of the 
spiritual life.' 

Various are the degrees of this inspiration : the inspiration 
of the prophet is direct, continuous, absorbing. The inspiration 

1 See Gratry, Henri Perreyve, pp. 162, tion, p. 106. Cf. Prof. Robeiison Smith, 
163. Prophets of Israel, p. 108. 

- Delitzsch, 0. T. History of Redemp- 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 343 

of the writer of Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, is such as to 
lead him to ponder on all the phases of a worldly experience, 
passing through many a false conclusion, and cynical denial, 
till at the last his thought is led to unite itself to the great 
stream of Divine movement by finding the only possible solu- 
tion of the problems of life in the recognition of God, and in 
obedience to Him. 

Various also are the sorts of literature inspired : for the 
supernatural fertilizes and does not annihilate the natural. 
The Church repudiated the Montanist conception of inspira- 
tion, according to which the inspired man speaks in ecstasy, 
as the passive unconscious instrument of the Spirit ; and the 
metaphors which would describe the Holy Spirit as acting 
upon a man ' like a flute player breathing into his flute,' or 
' a plectrum striking a lyre,' have always a suspicion of heresy 
attaching to their use 1 . As the humanity of Christ is none 
the less a true humanity for being conditioned by absolute one- 
ness with God, so the human activity is none the less free, 
conscious, rational, because the Spirit inspires it. The poet is 
a poet, the philosopher a philosopher, the historian an his- 
torian, each with his own idiosyncrasies, ways, and methods, 
to be interpreted each by the laws of his own literature. And 
just as truly as physiology, in telling us more and more 
about the human body, is telling us about the body which the 
Son of God assumed, so with the growth of our knowledge 
about the kinds and sequences of human literature, shall we 
know more and more about the literature of the Jews which 
the Holy Spirit inspired. 

What then is meant by the inspiration of Holy Scripture 1 
If we begin our inquiry with the account of creation with 
which the Bible opens, we may take note of its affinities 
in general substance with the Babylonian and Phoenician 
cosmogonies ; but we are much more struck with its differ- 
ences, and it is in these we shall look for its inspiration. We 
observe that it has for its motive and impulse not the 
satisfaction of a fantastic curiosity, or the later interest of 

1 See Epiphan. Haer. xlviii. 4. West- App. B, sect. ii. 4, sect. iv. 4. Mason, 
cott, Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, Faith of the Gospel, p. 255. 

344 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

scientific discovery, but to reveal certain fundamental reli- 
gious principles : that everything as we see it was made by 
God : that it has no being in itself but at God's will : on the 
other hand, that everything is in its essence good, as the pro- 
duct of the good God : that man, besides sharing the physical 
nature of all creation, has a special relation to God, as made 
in God's image, to be God's vice-gerent : that sin, and all that 
sin brings with it of misery and death, came not of man's 
nature but of his disobedience to God and rejection of the 
limitations under which He put him : that in spite of all that 
sin brought about, God has not left man to himself, that there 
is a hope and a promise. These are the fundamental principles 
of true religion and progressive morality, and in these lies the 
supernatural inspiration of the Bible account of creation 1 . 

As we pass on down the record of Genesis, we do not find 
ourselves in any doubt as to the primary and certain meaning 
of its inspiration. The first traditions of the race are all 
given there from a special point of view. In that point of 
view lies the inspiration. It is that everything is presented 
to us as illustrating God's dealings with man God's judg- 
ment on sin : His call of a single man to work out a uni- 
versal mission : His gradual delimitation of a chosen race : 
His care for the race : His over-ruling of evil to work out His 
purpose. The narrative of Genesis has all the fullest wealth 
of human interest, but it is in the unveiling of the hand of God 
that its special characteristic lies. As we go on into the 
history, we find the recorders acting like the recorders of 
other nations, collecting, sorting, adapting, combining their 
materials, but in this inspired that the animating motive 
of their work is not to bring out the national glory or to 
flatter the national vanity, nor, like the motive of a modern 
historian, the mere interest in fact, but to keep before the 
chosen people the record of how God has dealt with them. 
This, as we perceive, gives them a special sense of the value 
of fact-. They record what God has done, how God did in 

1 See Professor Driver's admirable 2 Professor Cheyne, speaking of 

article on ' the cosmogony of Gene- such narratives of Scriptures as the 
sis.' Expositor, Jan. 1886. record of Elijah, protests against the 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 345 

such and such ways take action on behalf of His peculiar 
people, delivering them, punishing them, teaching them, keep- 
ing them, disciplining them for higher ends. And none who 
have eyes to see God's spiritual purposes can doubt that those 
historians read aright the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 
The spiritual significance which they see is the true signi- 
ficance. God's special purpose was on Israel. 

It is not necessary to emphasize in what consists the special 
inspiration of psalmists or of prophets. The psalmists take 
some of the highest places among the poets of all nations, but 
the poetic faculty is directed to one great end, to reveal the 
soul in its relation to God, in its exultations and in its self- 
abasements. ' Where . . . did they come from, those piercing 
lightning-like gleams of strange spiritual truth, those magni- 
ficent out-looks upon the kingdom of God, those raptures at 
His presence and His glory, those wonderful disclosures of 
self-knowledge, those pure out-pourings of the love of God ? 
Surely here is something more than the mere working of the 
mind of man. Surely . . . they repeat the whispers of the 
Spirit of God, they reflect the very light of the Eternal 
Wisdom V 

In the case of prophets once more we get the most obvious 
and typical instances of inspiration 2 . The prophets make a 

supposition that they are ' true to question, in what does the inspiration 

fact.' ' True to fact ! Who goes to the of the Old Testament consist, 
artist for hard dry facts? Why even 2 Cf. pp. 161-167. In view of criti- 

the historians of antiquity thought it cisms it may be explained that in the 

no part of their duty to give the mere account of the prophet given above 

prose of life. How much less can only that view of his inspiration is 

the unconscious artists of the imagi- taken into consideration which ap- 

native East have described their peals first to the enquirer (cf. the 

heroes with relentless photographic words in the next paragraph ' in this 

accuracy ! ' (The Hallowing of Criticism, general sense at least '). When once 

p. 5.) But it seems to me that such this primary assurance of inspiration 

a passage, by treating the recorders of is gained the evidence of detailed 

the Old Testament as 'artists,' ignores prophecies will be found cogent. As 

their obvious intention to lay stress we compare the anticipations of the 

on what God has actually done, the Messiah or of the ' Righteous Servant ' 

deliverances He has actually wrought. in such passages as Ps. xxii., Is. liii., 

They, at least, like the Greek historical vii. 14, or ix. 6, 7, with their fulfil- 

' artist' of the defeat of Persia, would ment in Jesus Christ, we recognise a 

have laid great stress on the facts special action of the Holy Ghost, 

having happened. marking even in details the continuity 

1 Church, Discipline of the Christian of His method. Cf. p. 167 referred to 

Character, p. 57. This work seems to above, 
me the best existing answer to the 

346 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

direct claim to be the instruments of the Divine Spirit. Not 
that the Divine Spirit supersedes their human faculties, but 
He intensifies them. They see deeper under the surface of life 
what God is doing, and therefore further into the future what 
He will do. No doubt their predictive knowledge is general, 
it is of the issue to which things tend. It is not at least 
usually a knowledge ' of times and of seasons which the 
Father hath put in His own power.' Thus at times they 
foreshorten the distance, and place the great deliverance and 
the ' day of Jehovah ' in the too immediate foreground 1 . 
The prophetic inspiration is thus consistent with erroneous 
anticipations as to the circumstances and the opportunity of 
God's self-revelation, just as the apostolic inspiration admitted 
of S. Paul expecting the second coming of Christ within his 
own life-time. But the prophets claim to be directly and 
really inspired to teach and interpret what God is doing 
and commanding in their own age, and to forecast what in 
judgment and redemptive mercy God means to do and must 
do in the Divine event. The figure of the king Messiah dawns 
upon their horizon with increasing definiteness of outline and 
characteristic, and we, with the experience of history between 
us and them, are sure that the correspondence of prophecy 
and fulfilment can be due to no other cause than that they 
spoke in fact the ' word of the Lord.' 

Thus there is built up for us in the literature of a nation, 
marked by an unparalleled unity of purpose and character, a 
spiritual fabric, which in its result we cannot but recog- 
nise as the action of the Divine Spirit. A knowledge of God 
and of the spiritual life gradually appears, not as the product of 
human ingenuity, but as the result of Divine communication : 
and the outcome of this communication is to produce an or- 
ganic whole which postulates a climax not yet reached, a 
redemption not yet given, a hope not yet satisfied. In this 
general sense at least no Christian ought to feel a difficulty in 
believing, and believing with joy, in the inspiration of the Old 

1 See for instance Micah v. 2-6. On ject of prophecy, let me refer to Dr. 
the subject of the limitations of pro- Ed. Ttiehm, Messianic Prophecy (Clark's 
photic foresight, as on the whole sub- trans.) pp. 79, 86 if., 114, 157-162. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 347 

Testament : nor can he feel that he is left without a standard 
by which to judge what it means. Christ, the goal of Old 
Testament development, stands forth as the test and measure 
of its inspiration. 

The New Testament consists of writings of Apostles or of 
men of sub-apostolic rank, like S. Luke and probably the 
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. There is not, except 
perhaps in the case of the Apocalypse, any sign of an inspira- 
tion to write, other than the inspiration which gave power to 
teach. What then is, whether for writing or for teaching, the 
inspiration of an Apostle 1 

If Jesus Christ both was, and knew Himself to be, the 
Revealer of the Father, it almost stands to reason that He 
must have secured that His revelation should be, without 
material alloy, communicated to the Church which was to 
enshrine and perpetuate it. Thus, in fact, we find that He 
spent His chief pains on the training of His apostolic wit- 
nesses. And all the training which He gave them while He 
was present among them was only to prepare them to receive 
the Holy Ghost Who, after He was gone, was to be poured out 
upon them to qualify them to bear His witness among men. 

' Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon 
you, and ye shall be My witnesses : ' ' These things have I 
spoken unto you while yet abiding with you. And the Com- 
forter, even the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My 
name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remem- 
brance all that I said unto you.' ' I have yet many things to 
say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when 
He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all the 
truth V 

Thus the Church sees in the Apostles men specially and 
deliberately qualified to interpret Christ to the world. It 
understands by their inspiration an endowment which enables 
men of all ages to take their teaching as representing, and 
not misrepresenting, His teaching and Himself. In S. John's 
Gospel, for example, we have an account of our Lord which 
has obviously passed through the medium of a most remark - 
1 Acts i. 8. S. John xiv. 25, 26 ; xvi. 12, 13. 

348 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

able personality. We have the outcome of the meditation, as 
well as the recollection, of the Apostle. But, as the evidence 
assures us that the Gospel is really S. John's, so the Church 
unhesitatingly accepts S. John's strong and repeated assevera- 
tion that he is interpreting and not distorting the record, 
the personality, the claims of Jesus Christ. ' He bears record, 
and his record is true 1 .' 

This assurance is indeed not without verification : it is 
verified by the unity of testimony which, under all differ- 
ences of character and circumstance, we find among the 
apostolic witnesses. The accepted doctrine of the Church 
when S. Paul wrote his 'undoubted Epistles,' the points of 
agreement amidst all differences between him and the Judaizers 
gives us substantially the same conception of the Person of 
the Incarnate Son of God as we find in S. John 2 . The same 
conception of what He was, is required to interpret the record 
of what He did and said in the Synoptic Gospels. Further, 
the witness of the Apostles, though it receives its final 
guarantee through the belief in their inspiration, has its 
natural basis in the prolonged training by which ' company- 
ing with them all the time that He went in and out among 
them, beginning from the baptism of John, until the day that 
He was received up,' they were prepared to be His witnesses. 
Thus if an act of faith is asked of us in the apostolic inspira- 
tion, it is a reasonable act of faith. 

If we pass from the writings properly apostolic to those like 
S. Luke's records, which represent apostolic teaching at 
second hand, we do not find that the inspiration of their 
writers was of such sort as enabled them to dispense with the 
ordinary means or guarantees of accuracy. The simple claim 
of S. Luke's preface to have had the best means of informa- 
tion and to have taken the greatest care in the use of them, 
is on this score most instructive. We should suppose that 
their inspiration was part of the whole spiritual endowment 
of their life which made them the trusted friends of the 

1 S. John xix. 35 ; xxi. 24. i S. John Christians thought about Christ. (Oxford 
i. 1-3. House Papers : Eivington.) 

2 See Prof. Sanday's What the first 

vin. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 349 

Apostles, and qualified them to be the chosen instruments to 
record their teaching, in the midst of a Church whose quick 
and eager memory of ' the tradition ' would have acted as a 
check to prevent any material error creeping into the record. 

4. It will be remembered that when inspiration is spoken 
of by S. Paul, he mentions it as a positive endowment which 
qualifies the writings of those who were its subjects, to be 
permanent sources of spiritual instruction. ' Every Scripture 
inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, 
for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness 1 .' 
Following out this idea of Holy Scripture then, we are led to 
think of the belief in inspiration as having this primary 
practical result : that we submit ourselves to the teaching of 
every book which is given to us as inspired. We are to put 
ourselves to school with each in turn of the inspired writers ; 
with S. James, for example, in the New Testament, as well 
as with S. John and S. Paul ; with S. Luke as well as with 
S. Matthew ; with the Pastoral Epistles as well as with the 
Epistle to the Galatians 2 . At starting each of us, according 
to his predisposition, is conscious of liking some books of 
Scripture better than others. This, however, should lead us to 
recognise that in some way we specially need the teaching 
which is less attractive to us. We should set ourselves to 
study what we like less, till that too has had its proper effect 
in moulding our conscience and character. It is hardly 
possible to estimate how much division would have been 
avoided in the Church if those, for example, who were most 
ecclesiastically disposed had been at pains to assimilate the 
teaching of the Epistle to the Romans, and those who most 
valued ' the freedom of the Gospel ' had recognised a special 
obligation to deepen their hold on the Epistles to the Corin- 
thians and the Pastoral Epistles and the Epistle of S. James. 

To believe in the inspiration of Holy Scripture is to put 
ourselves to school with every part of the Old Testament, as of 
the New. True, the Old Testament is imperfect, but for that 

1 2 Tim. iii. 16. in this quality of impartial regard to 

2 Mr. Horton's book on Inspiration inspired books. 
and the Bible is almost naively lacking 


350 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

very reason has a special value. ' The real use of the earlier 
record is not to add something to the things revealed in 
Christ, but to give us that clear and all-sided insight into the 
meaning and practical worth of the perfect scheme of Divine 
grace which can only be attained by tracing its growth 1 .' 
We see in the Old Testament the elements, each in separation, 
which went to make up the perfect whole, and which must 
still lie at the basis of all rightly formed life of individuals 
and societies. 

Thus to believe, for instance, in the inspiration of the Old 
Testament forces us to recognise a real element of the Divine 
education in the imprecatory Psalms. They are not the 
utterances of selfish spite 2 : they are the claim which 
righteous Israel makes upon God that He should vindicate 
Himself, and let their eyes see how 'righteousness turns again 
unto judgment.' The claim is made in a form which belongs 
to an early stage of spiritual education ; to a time when this life 
was regarded as the scene in which God must finally vindicate 
Himself, and when the large powers and possibilities of the 
Divine compassion were very imperfectly recognised. But 
behind these limitations, which characterize the greater part 
of the Old Testament, the claim of these Psalms still remains 
a necessary part of the claim of the Christian soul. We must 
not only recognise the reality of Divine judgments in time 
and eternity, bodily and spiritual ; we must not only 
acquiesce in them because they are God's ; we must go on to 
claim of God the manifestation of His just judgment, so that 
holiness and joy, sin and failure, shall be seen to coincide. 

To recognise then the inspiration of the Bible is to put 
ourselves to school in every part of it, and everywhere to bear in 
mind the admonition of the Delmitatione 'that every Scripture 
must be read in the same spirit in which it was written.' So 
far it will not be a point in dispute among Christians what 
inspiration means, or what its purpose is. ' The Councils of 
Trent and the Vatican,' writes Cardinal Newman, ' tell us 

1 Prof. Robertson Smith, Prophets of vii. p. 207 : ' Another point in which 
Israel, p. 6. criticism removes a serious difficulty 

2 C'f. Prof. Robertson Smith, The is the interpretation of the impreca- 
Old Testament in the Jewish Church, Lect. tory psalms.' 

vin. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 351 

distinctly the object and the promise of Scriptural inspiration. 
They specify " faith and moral conduct " as the drift of that 
teaching which has the guarantee of inspiration V Nor can 
it be denied that the more Holy Scripture is read from this 
point of view, the more confidently it is treated as the in- 
spired guide of faith and conduct, no less in the types of 
character which it sets before us than in its direct instruction, 
the more the experience and appreciation of its inspiration 
grows upon us, so that to deny or to doubt it comes to mean 
to deny or to doubt a matter plain to the senses. Indeed 
what has been said under this head will probably appear to 
those practised in the spiritual use of Holy Scripture as an 
understatement, perhaps not easy to justify, of the sense in 
which the Scripture is the Word of God, and the spiritual 
food of the soul 2 . 

5. But here certain important questions arise, (a) The re- 
velation of God was made in a historical process. Its record 
is in large part the record of a national life : it is historical. 
Now the inspiration of the recorder lies, as we have seen, 
primarily in this, that he sees the hand of God in the history 
and interprets His purpose. Further, we must add, his 
sense of the working of God in history, increases his realiza- 
tion of the importance of historical fact. Thus there is a 
profound air of historical truthfulness pervading the Old 
Testament record from Abraham downward. The weaknesses, 
the sins, of Israel's heroes are not spared. Their sin and its 
punishment is always before us. There is no flattering of 
national pride, no giving the reins to boastfulness. In all 
this the Old Testament appears to be in marked contrast, as 
to contemporary Assyrian monuments, so also to a good deal 
of much later ecclesiastical history. But does the inspiration 
of the recorder guarantee the exact historical truth of what he 
records'? And in matter of fact can the record, with due 

1 See Nineteenth Century, Feb. 1884, to anyone of you, at once the voice 
p. 189. of exultation and thankfulness for 

2 'When from time to time,' says the nourishment of spiritual food 
S. Bernard to his monks, ' anything that has been received, must rise as 
that was hidden or obscure in the from a banquet to delight the ears of 
Scriptures has come out into the light God.' 

352 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

regard to legitimate historical criticism, be pronounced true ? 
Now, to the latter of these two questions (and they are 
quite distinct questions), we may reply that there is nothing 
to prevent our believing, as our faith certainly strongly dis- 
poses us to believe, that the record from Abraham downward 
is in substance in the strict sense historical. Of course the 
battle of historical truth cannot be fought on the field of the 
Old Testament, as it can on that of the New, because it is so 
vast and indecisive, and because (however certainly ancient is 
such a narrative as that contained in Genesis xiv.) very little 
of the early record can be securely traced to a period near the 
events. Thus the Church cannot insist upon the historical 
character of the earliest records of the ancient Church in detail, 
as she can on the historical character of the Gospels or the Acts 
of the Apostles. On the other hand, as it seems the more 
probable opinion that the Hebrews must have been acquainted 
with the art of writing in some form long before the Exodus, 
there is no reason to doubt the existence of some written 
records among them from very early days 1 . Internal evi- 
dence again certainly commends to our acceptance the history 
of the patriarchs, of the Egyptian bondage, of the great 
redemption, of the wanderings, as well as of the later 
period as to which there would be less dispute. In a word 
we are, we believe, not wrong in anticipating that the Church 
will continue to believe and to teach that the Old Testament 
from Abraham downwards is really historical, and that there 
will be nothing to make such belief and teaching unreasonable 
or wilful. But within the limits of what is substantially his- 
torical, there is still room for an admixture of what, though 
marked by spiritual purpose, is yet not strictly historical for 
instance, for a feature which characterizes all early history, 

1 See the Annual Address (1889) states of Palestine . . . This inter- 
delivered at the Victoria Institute by course was carried on by means of 
Prof. Sayce, on the cuneiform tablets the Babylonian language and the 
of Tel el-amarna, pp. 4, 14 f. ; 'We complicated Babylonian script. How 
learn that in the fifteenth century educated the old world was, we are 
before our era a century before the but just beginning to learn. But we 
Exodus active literary intercourse have already learnt enough to discover 
was going on throughout the civilized how important a bearing it has on the 
world of Western Asia, between criticism of the Old Testament.' 
Babylonia and Egypt and the smaller 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 353 

the attribution to first founders of what is really the remoter 
result of their institutions. Now historical criticism * assures 
us that this process has been largely at work in the Pentateuch. 
By an analysis, for instance, the force of which is very great, it 
distinguishes distinct stages in the growth of the law of worship : 
at least an early stage such as is represented in ' the Book of 
the Covenant 2 ,' a second stage in the Book of Deuteronomy, 
a last stage in ' the Priestly Code.' What we may suppose to 
have happened is that Moses himself established a certain 
germ of ceremonial enactment in connection with the ark and 
its sacred tent, and with the ' ten words ' ; and that this developed 
always as ' the law of Moses,' the whole result being constantly 
attributed, probably unconsciously and certainly not from any 
intention to deceive, to the original founder. This view 
would certainly imply that the recorders of Israel's history 
were subject to the ordinary laws in the estimate of evidence, 
that their inspiration did not consist in a miraculous com- 
munication to them of facts as they originally happened : but 
if we believe that the law, as it grew, really did represent the 
Divine intention for the Jews, gradually worked out upon the 
basis of a Mosaic institution, there is nothing materially un- 
truthful, though there is something uncritical, in attributing 
the whole legislation to Moses acting under the Divine 
command. It would be only of a piece with the attribution 
of the collection of Psalms to David and of Proverbs to 
Solomon. Nor does the supposition that the law was of 
gradual growth interfere in any way with the symbolical and 
typical value of its various ordinances. 

Once again, the same school of criticism would assure us 
that the Books of Chronicles represent a later and less 
historical version of Israel's history than that given in Samuel 
and Kings 3 : they represent, according to this view, the ver- 
sion of that history which had become current in the priestly 
schools. What we are asked to admit is not conscious 
perversion, but unconscious idealizing of history, the reading 

Driver. Crit. notes on Sunday 3 The Books of Kings seem to be 

-i-ilincr : X. -\v York). compiled from the point of view of the 

Ex. xx. xxii-xxiii. xxxiii. Deuteronomist. 

A a 

354 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

back into past records of a ritual development which was 
really later. Now inspiration excludes conscious deception 
or pious fraud, but it appears to be quite consistent with this 
sort of idealizing ; always supposing that the result read back 
into the earlier history does represent the real purpose of God 
and only anticipates its realization. 

Here then is one great question. Inspiration certainly 
means the illumination of the judgment of the recorder. ' By 
the contact of the Holy Spirit,' says Origen, ' they became 
clearer in their mental perceptions, and their souls were filled 
with a brighter light V But have we any reason to believe 
that it means, over and above this, the miraculous communi- 
cation of facts not otherwise to be known, a miraculous com- 
munication such as would make the recorder independent of 
the ordinary processes of historical tradition ? Certainly neither 
S. Luke's preface to his Gospel, nor the evidence of any 
inspired record, justifies us in this assumption. Nor would it 
appear that spiritual illumination, even in the highest degree, 
has any tendency to lift men out of the natural conditions of 
knowledge which belong to their time. Certainly in the 
similar case of exegesis, it would appear that S. Paul is 
left to the method of his time, though he uses it with inspired 
insight into the function and meaning of law and of prophecy 
as a whole. Thus, without pronouncing an opinion, where we 
have no right to do so, on the critical questions at present under 
discussion, we may maintain with considerable assurance that 
there is nothing in the doctrine of inspiration to prevent our 
recognising a considerable idealizing element in the Old Tes- 
tament history. The reason is of course obvious enough why 
what can be admitted in the Old Testament, could not without 
results disastrous to the Christian Creed, be admitted in the 
New.. It is because the Old Testament is the record of how 
God produced a need, or anticipation, or ideal, while the New 
Testament records how in fact He satisfied it. The absolute 
coincidence of idea and fact is vital in the realization, not in 
the preparation for it. It is equally obvious, too, that where 
fact is of supreme importance, as in the New Testament, the 

1 Origen, c. Cels. vii. 4. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 355 

evidence has none of the ambiguity or remoteness which 
belongs to much of the record of the preparation. 

(6) But once again ; we find all sorts of literature in the 
inspired volume : men can be inspired to think and to write 
for God under all the forms of natural genius. Now one 
form of genius is the dramatic : its essence is to make cha- 
racters, real or imaginary, the vehicles for an ideal presenta- 
tion. It presents embodied ideas. Now the Song of Solomon 
is of the nature of a drama. The Book of Job, although it 
works on an historical basis, is, it can hardly be denied, 
mainly dramatic. The Book of Wisdom, which with us is 
among the books of the Bible, though in the second rank out- 
side the canon, and which is inside the canon of the Roman 
Church, professes to be written by Solomon ^ but is certainly 
written not by him, but in his person by another author. 
We may then conceive the same to be true of Ecclesiastes, 
and of Deuteronomy ; i. e. we may suppose Deuteronomy to 
be a republication of the law ' in the spirit and power ' of Moses 
put dramatically into his mouth. Criticism goes further, and 
asks us to regard Jonah and Daniel, among the prophetic 
books, as dramatic compositions worked up on a basis of his- 
tory. The discussion of these books has often been approached 
from a point of view from which the miraculous is neces- 
sarily unhistorical. With such a point of view we are not 
concerned. The possibility and reality of miracles has to be 
vindicated first of all in the field of the New Testament ; and 
one who admits them there, cannot reasonably exclude their 
possibility in the earlier history. The question must be treated 
simply on literary and evidential grounds 2 . But we would 
contend that if criticism should shew these books to be probably 
dramatic, that would be no hindrance to their performing 'an 
important canonical function,' or to their being inspired. 

1 E. g. chs. vii. ix. The Roman admitted into the canon a book the 

Church admits that it is, to use literary method of which is thus 

Newman's phrase, 'a prosopopeia ' ; confessedly dramatic. Newman makes 

'our Bibles say, "it is written in the this the ground for. saying that the 

person of Solomon " and "it is un- same may be true of Ecclesiastes. 
certain who was the writer,"' I.e. 2 On the evidence of 0. T. miracles 

p. 197. It is important to bear in I may refer to Mr. Samuel Cox's 

mind that the Western Church in Essay : Miracles, an Argument and a 

general has, since S. Augustine's day, Challenge. (Kegan Paul, 1884.) 

A a 2 

356 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Dramatic composition has played an immense part in training 
the human mind. It is as far removed as possible from a 
violation of truth, though in an uncritical age its results may 
very soon pass for history. It admits of being inspired as 
much as poetry, or history, and indeed there are few who 
could feel a difficulty in recognising as inspired the teaching 
of the books of Jonah and Daniel 1 . It is maintained then 
that the Church leaves open to literary criticism the question 
whether several of the writings of the Old Testament are 
or are not dramatic. Certainly the fact that they have 
not commonly been taken to be so in the past will be no 
evidence to the contrary, unless it can be denied that a 
literary criticism is being developed, which is as really new 
an intellectual product as the scientific development, and 
as such, certain to reverse a good many of the literary judg- 
ments of previous ages. We are being asked to make con- 
siderable changes in our literary conception of the Scriptures, 
but not greater changes than were involved in the accept- 
ance of the heliocentric astronomy. 

(c) Once again : an enlarged study of comparative history 
has led to our perceiving that the various sorts of mental or 
literary activity develop in their different lines out of an 
earlier condition in which they lie fused and undifferentiated. 
This we can vaguely call the mythical stage of mental evolu- 
tion. A myth is not a falsehood ; it is a product of mental 
activity, as instructive and rich as any later product, but its 
characteristic is that it is not yet distinguished into history, 
and poetry, and philosophy. It is all of these in the germ, as 
dream and imagination, and thought and experience, are fused 
in the mental furniture of a child's mind. ' These myths or 
current stories,' says Grote writing of Greek history, 'the 
spontaneous and earliest growth of the Greek mind, consti- 
tuted at the same time the entire intellectual stock of the age to 
which they belonged. They are the common root of all those 

1 Of course the distinction must be will probably solve the special diffi- 

maintained in the case of the book of culty which on the critical hypotli' 

Daniel between a ' pious fraud ' which attaches to the book of Daniel from 

cannot be inspired, and an idealizing this point of view : see Stanton, 

personification which, as a normal Jewish and Christian Messiah, p. 109, 

type of literature, can. Further study note i. 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 357 

different ramifications into which the mental activity of the 
Greeks subsequently diverged ; containing as it were the 
preface and germ of the positive history and philosophy, the 
dogmatic theology and the professed romance, which we shall 
hereafter trace, each in its separate development.' Now has 
the Jewish history such earlier stage : does it pass back out of 
history into myth ? In particular, are not its earlier narratives, 
before the call of Abraham, of the nature of myth, in which we 
cannot distinguish the historical germ, though we do not at all 
deny that it exists ? The inspiration of these narratives is as 
conspicuous as that of any part of Scripture, but is there any- 
thing to prevent our regarding these great inspirations about 
the origin of all things, the nature of sin, the judgment of 
God on sin, and the alienation among men which follows 
their alienation from God, as conveyed to us in that form of 
myth or allegorical picture, which is the earliest mode in 
which the mind of man apprehended truth ? 

6. In spite of the arbitrariness and the irreligion which have 
often been associated with the modern development of histo- 
rical criticism in its application to the Old Testament, the 
present writer believes that it represents none the less a real 
advance in literary analysis, and is reaching results as sure, 
where it is fairly used, as scientific inquiry, though the results 
in the one case as in the other are often hard to disentangle 
from their less permanent accompaniments. Believing this, 
and feeling in consequence that the warning which the name 
of Galileo must ever bring before the memory of churchmen, is 
not unneeded now, he believes also that the Church is in no 
way restrained from admitting the modifications just hinted at, 
in what has latterly been the current idea of inspiration. 

The Church is not restrained, in the first place, by having 
committed herself to any dogmatic definitions of the meaning 
of inspiration J . It is remarkable indeed that Origen's almost 
reckless mysticism, and his accompanying repudiation of the 
historical character of large parts of the narrative of the Old 

1 This is certainly true of the Roman Church, see Newman in the 
Church as a whole. For the most that article above cited, 
can be said in the same sense of the 

358 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Testament, and of some parts of the New 1 , though it did not 
gain acceptance, and indeed had no right to it (for it had no 
sound basis), on the other hand never roused the Church to 
contrary definitions. Nor is it only Origen who disputed the 
historical character of parts of the narrative of Holy Scripture. 
Clement before him in Alexandria, and the mediaeval Anselm in 
the West, treat the seven days' creation as allegory and not his- 
tory. Athanasius speaks of paradise as a ' figure.' A mediaeval 
Greek writer, who had more of Irenaeus than remains to us, de- 
clared that 'he did not know how those -who kept to the letter 
and took the account of the temptation historically rather than 
allegorically, could meet the arguments of Irenaeus against 
them.' Further than this, it cannot be denied that the mystical 
method, as a whole, tended to the depreciation of the historical 
sense, in comparison with the spiritual teaching which it con- 
veyed 2 . In a different line, Chrysostom, of the literal school 
of interpreters, explains quite in the tone of a modern apologist, 
how the discrepancies in detail between the different Gospels, 
assure us of the independence of the witnesses, and do not 
touch the facts of importance, in which all agree. 

The Church is not tied then by any existing definitions. 
We cannot make any exact claim upon any one's belief in 
regard to inspiration, simply because we have no authoritative 
definition to bring to bear upon him. Those of us who believe 
most in the inspiration of the Church, will see a Divine 
Providence in this absence of dogma, because we shall perceive 
that only now is the state of knowledge such as admits of the 
question being legitimately raised. 

Nor does it seem that the use which our Lord made of the 
Old Testament is an argument against the proposed concessions. 
Our Lord, in His use of the Old Testament, does indeed endorse 

1 De Principiis, iv. 15, 16, 17. His reader may notice . . . innumerable 

point is that incidents which could other passages, like these, so that he 

not have occurred in fact, or at least will be convinced that in the histories 

did not occur, are inserted in the that are literally recorded, circum- 

narrative of the Old and New Testa- stances are inserted that did not 

ments, that their very historical im- occur.' Cf. Bigg, Christian Platonists, 

possibility or improbability may drive pp. 137-8. 

us to the consideration of their 2 Cf. Jerome, ad Nepotian. ep. lii. 2. 

spiritual significance. ' The attentive 

vin. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 359 

with the utmost emphasis the Jewish view of their own history. 
He does thus imply, on the one hand, the real inspiration of 
their canon in its completeness, and, on the other hand, that He 
Himself was the goal of that inspired leading and the standard 
of that inspiration. ' Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My 
day : ' ' I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.' This, and it is 
the important matter for all that concerns our spiritual educa- 
tion, is not in dispute. What is questioned is that our Lord's 
words foreclose certain critical positions as to the character of 
Old Testament literature. For example, does His use of Jonah's 
resurrection, as a type of His own, depend in any real degree 
upon whether it is historical fact or allegory 1 ? It is of the 
essence of a type to suggest an idea, as of the antitype to 
realize it. The narrative of Jonah suggested certainly the 
idea of resurrection after three days, of triumph over death, 
and by suggesting this gave our Lord what His discourse re- 
quired. Once more, our Lord uses the time before the flood 2 
to illustrate the carelessness of men before His own coming. 
He is using the flood here as a typical judgment, as else- 
where He uses other contemporary visitations for a like pur- 
pose. In referring to the flood He certainly suggests that He is 
treating it as typical, for He introduces circumstances 'eating 
and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage ' which have 
no counterpart in the original narrative. Nothing in His use 
of it depends on its being more than a typical instance. Once 
more, He argues with the Pharisees on the assumption of the 
Davidic authorship of Psalm ex 3 . But it must be noticed 
that He is asking a question rather than making a state- 
ment a question, moreover, which does not admit of being 
turned into a statement without suggesting the conclusion, 
of which rationalistic critics have not hesitated to avail 
themselves, that David's Lord could not be David's son. 
There are, we notice, other occasions when our Lord asked 
questions which cannot be made the basis of positive proposi- 
tions 4 . It was in fact part of His method to lead men 

1 S. Matt. xii. 40. * See especially S. Mark x. 17-18 

2 8. Matt. xxiv. 37-39. (and parallel passages ', where our 

3 S. Matt. xxii. 41-46. Lord s question, if converted into a 

360 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

to examine their own principles without at the time sug- 
gesting any positive conclusion at all. 

It may also fairly be represented, on a review of our Lord's 
teaching as a whole, that if He had intended to convey in- 
struction to us on critical and literary questions, He would 
have made His purpose plainer. It is contrary to His whole 
method to reveal His Godhead by any anticipations of natural 
knowledge. The Incarnation was a self-emptying of God to 
reveal Himself under conditions of human nature and from the 
human point of view. We are able to draw a distinction be- 
tween what He revealed and what He used. He revealed 
God, His mind, His character, His claim, within certain limits 
His Threefold Being : He revealed man, his sinfulness, his 
need, his capacity : He revealed His purpose of redemption, 
and founded His Church as a home in which man was to be 
through all the ages reconciled to God in knowledge and love. 
All this He revealed, but through, and under conditions of, a 
true human nature. Thus He used human nature, its relation 
to God, its conditions of experience, its growth in knowledge, 
its limitation of knowledge J . He feels as we men ought to 
feel : he sees as we ought to see. We can thus distinguish more 
or less between the Divine truth which He reveals, and the 
human nature which He uses. Now when He speaks of the ' sun 
rising ' He is using ordinary human knowledge. He willed 
so to restrain the beams of Deity as to observe the limits of 
the science of His age, and He puts Himself in the same 
relation to its historical knowledge. Thus He does not reveal 
His eternity by statements as to what had happened in the 
past, or was to happen in the future, outside the ken of exist- 
ing history 2 . He made His Godhead gradually manifest by 

positive proposition, suggests a repu- Christ to take it upon Himself, 

diation of personal goodness. Cf. ' 2 Of course He gave prophetic indi- 

also the question in S. John x. 34-36 cations of the coming judgment, but 

where, though the argument is a on the analogy of inspired prophecy. 

fortiori, still the true character of our He did not reveal 'times and seasons,' 

Lord's sonship is hardly suggested. and declared that it was not with in the 

1 This limitation of knowledge scope of His mission to do so. Seeesp. 

must not be confused with fallibility S. Mark xiii. 32. He exhibits super- 

or liability to human delusion, because natural insight into men's characters 

it was doubtless guarded by the and lives. But He never exhibits the 

Divine purpose which led Jesus omniscience of bare Godhead in the 

viii. The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. 361 

His attitude towards men and things about Him, by His 
moral and spiritual claims, by His expressed relation to His 
Father, not by any miraculous exemptions of Himself from the 
conditions of natural knowledge in its own proper province. 
Thus the utterances of Christ about the Old Testament do 
not seem to be nearly definite or clear enough to allow of 
our supposing that in this case He is departing from the 
general method of the Incarnation, by bringing to bear the 
unveiled omniscience of the Godhead, to anticipate or fore- 
close a development of natural knowledge. 

But if we thus plead that theology may leave the field 
open for free discussion of these questions which Biblical 
criticism has recently been raising, we shall probably be bidden 
to ' remember Tubingen,' and not be over-trustful of a criticism 
which at least exhibits in some of its most prominent repre- 
sentatives a great deal of arbitrariness, of love of ' new views ' 
for their own sake, and a great lack of that reverence and 
spiritual insight which is at least as much needed for under- 
standing the books of the Bible, as accurate knowledge and fair 
investigation. To this the present writer would be disposed 
to reply that, if the Christian Church has been enabled to 
defeat the critical attack, so far as it threatened destruction to 
the historical basis of the New Testament, it has not been by 
foreclosing the question with an appeal to dogma, but by facing 
in fair and frank discussion the problems raised. A similar 
treatment of Old Testament problems will enable us to dis- 
tinguish between what is reasonable and reverent, and what 
is high-handed and irreligious in contemporary criticism 
whether German, French, or English. Even in regard to 
what makes prima facie a reasonable claim, we do not 
prejudice the decision by declaring the field open : in all 
probability there will always remain more than one school of 

realm of natural knowledge ; such as 2 Cor. viii. 9 arid Phil. ii. 7. Indeed 

would be required to anticipate the God 'declares His almighty power 

results of modern science or criticism. most chiefly ' in this condescension, 

This 'self-emptying' of God in the whereby He 'beggared Himself of 

Incarnation is, we must always re- Divine prerogatives, to put Himself 

member, no failure of power, but a in our place, 
continuous act of Self-sacrifice : cf. 

362 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

legitimate opinion on the subject: indeed the purpose of the 
latter part of this essay has not been to inquire how much we 
can without irrationality believe inspiration to involve ; but 
rather, how much may legitimately and without real loss be 
conceded. For, without doubt, if consistently with entire 
loyalty to our Lord and His Church, we can regard as open the 
questions specified above, we are removing great obstacles from 
the path to belief of many who certainly wish to believe, and 
do not exhibit any undue scepticism. Nor does there appear 
to be any real danger that the criticism of the Old Testament 
will ultimately diminish our reverence for it. In the case of 
the New Testament certainly we are justified in feeling that 
modern investigation has resulted in immensely augmenting 
our understanding of the different books, and has distinctly 
fortified and enriched our sense of their inspiration. Why 
then should we hesitate to believe that the similar investiga- 
tion of the Old Testament will in its result similarly enrich 
our sense that 'God in divers portions and divers manners 
spake of old times unto the fathers,' and that the Inspiration 
of Holy Scriptures will always be recognised as the most 
conspicuous of the modes in which the Holy Spirit has 
mercifully wrought for the illumination and encouragement 
of our race ? 

' For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written 
for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the 
Scriptures might have hope/ 






CHRISTIANITY claims to be at once a life, a truth, and 
a worship ; and, on all these accounts, it needs must find 
expression in a church. For, in the first place, the life of an 
individual remains dwarfed and stunted as long as it is lived 
in isolation ; it is in its origin the outcome of other lives ; it 
is at every moment of its existence dependent upon others ; it 
reaches perfection only when it arrives at a conscious sense of 
its own deficiencies and limitations, and, therefore, of its 
dependence, and through such a sense realizes with thankful- 
ness its true relation to the rest of life around it. Again, the 
knowledge of truth comes to the individual first through the 
mediation of others, of his parents and teachers ; as he grows. 
and his own intellect works more freely, yet its results only 
gain consistency, security, width, when tested by the results of 
other workers ; and directly we wish to propagate these 
results, they must be embodied in the lives of others, in 
societies, in organizations. Without these, ideas remain in the 
air, abstract, intangible, appealing perhaps to the philosophic 
few, but high above the reach of the many, the simple. ' All 
human society is the receptacle, nursery, and dwelling-place of 
ideas, shaped and limited according to the nature of the 
society ideas which live and act on it and in it ; which are 
preserved, passed on, and transmitted from one portion of it 
to another, from one generation to another ; which would be 
merely abstractions or individual opinions if they were not 

366 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

endowed with the common life which their reception in 
a society gives them 1 .' 

These two principles are, obviously, not confined to religious 
questions. They apply to morality, to society, to politics. 
They are assumed in all ethical and political treatises. The 
need of co-operation for common life underlies the whole 
structure of the Republic of Plato ; it is implied in Aristotle's 
definition of man as a social animal, and in his close asso- 
ciation of Ethics with Politics : it has created the family, the 
tribe, the state ; each fresh assertion of the principle, each 
breaking down of the barriers which separate family from 
family, tribe from tribe, nation from nation, has been a step 
forward in civilization. The strength of co-operation for the 
propagation of ideas is seen in the persistence with which 
certain nations retain hold on political theories or peculiar 
features of character ; it is seen in the recurring formation 
of philosophic schools or religious sects or guilds, as soon as 
any new truth, intellectual or religious, has been discovered, 
or any moral quality, such as temperance or purity, has 
needed to be emphasized. The most individualistic of Chris- 
tian sects have found themselves forced to be ecclesiastical, to 
define their creeds and to perfect their organization, as soon 
as they have begun to be missionary. 

These principles are as wide as society ; but religion takes 
them up and applies them on the highest level. Religion is, 
almost universally, the link which binds man to man, no 
less than that which binds man to a Power above him. So 
in the Christian Church if we may anticipate, for a moment, 
our special application of the principle the new-born child is 
taken at once and incorporated into a body of believers ; from 
the first it draws its life from God through the body ; it is 
taught that throughout life it must keep in touch with the 
body ; it must be in a right relation to the other members ; it 
must draw life from them ; it must contribute life to them. 
And, further, this body has existed always and exists still as 

1 The Dean of S. Paul's on The cellently worked out and applied to 
Oiristin C//K rrli. Oxford House Papers, the Church. 
No. xvii. where this truth is ex- 

ix. The Church. 367 

the home of certain ideas., ideas about God and about human 
life, which were revealed in Jesus Christ, and which it has to 
attest in its teaching and embody in its life. It is to be 
a body of visible persons, themselves the light of the world, 
expressing so that others can see the manifold wisdom of God, 
winning others to belief in the unity of God, by the sight of 
their own one-ness. The first principle might be expressed in 
the words of Festus to Paracelsus, when the latter had claimed 
to be God's special instrument in the world ; 

Were I elect like you, 
I would encircle me with love, and raise 
A rampart of my fellows : it should seem 
Impossible for me to fail, so watched 
By gentle friends who made their cause my own. 
They should ward off fate's envy : the great gift, 
Extravagant when claimed by me alone, 
Being so a gift to them as well as me l : 

the second principle by lines applied originally to the In- 
carnation, but which we may legitimately transfer to the 
Church, which continues the work of the Incarnation, 

And so the Word had breath, and wrought 
With human hands the Creed of Creeds 
In loveliness of perfect deeds, 

More strong than all poetic thought 2 . 

But, further, religion adds a third application of its own to 
this principle of co-operation : for a church grows also out of 
the necessities of worship. The ritual needed for the offering 
of sacrifice almost necessitates of itself a number of persons 
for its performance. No doubt, an individual can worship 
God in private, but so his worship tends to be self-centred 
and narrow : for the full expression of his religious relation 
to others, for expiating a wrong done by him to his neigh- 
bours or to the whole community, for expressing gratitude for 
mercies which have come to him through others, there must 
be the common meeting : and the community as a whole has 
its great victories for which to thank God, its national 
dangers for which to pray, its national sins for which to offer 

1 Browning, Paracelsus, ii. p. 30, ed. 2 Tennyson, In Memortam, xxxvi. 


368 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

expiation ; and hence, common religious acts have been the 
universal accompaniment of national life, and have in their 
turn reacted upon it. 

The idea of a Church, then, as conceived in its most 
general form, and without especial reference to the Christian 
Church, is this, that it widens life by deepening the sense of 
brotherhood; that it teaches, strengthens, and propagates 
ideas by enshrining truth in living witnesses, by checking 
the results of isolated thinkers by contact with other thinkers, 
and by securing permanency for the ideas ; and that it ex- 
pands and deepens worship by eliminating all that is selfish 
and narrow, and giving expression to common aims and feel- 

We pass from such d priori ideas to the evidence of the 
Bible. There we find that these principles were embodied 
first in Judaism. There the whole nation was the Church. 
The Jew entered into the religious privileges of his life, not 
by any conscious act of his own, but by being born of Jewish 
parents ; he retained his true life by remaining in contact 
with his nation. The union of the different members of the 
nation with each other is so intimate that the whole nation is 
spoken of as a personal unit. It is called ' God's Son,' His 
' first-born Son,' ' Jehovah's servant.' The ideal of prophecy 
is essentially that of a restored nation rejoicing in the rule 
of national righteousness. Again, the nation was chosen out 
specially to bear witness to truth, truth about the nature of 
God, the Almighty, the Eternal, the Holy ; truth embodied in 
the facts of history, and deepened in the revelations of 
prophecy ; truths which the fathers teach their children, ' that 
they should not hide them from the children of the generations 
to come 1 .' In the striking phrase of S. Athanasius, the law 
and the prophets were 'a sacred school of the knowledge of 
God and of spiritual life for the whole world V Their worship, 
too, was essentially social and national. From the first it 
centred round great national events, the fortunes of the 
harvest, or the crises of national history : the individual was 

1 Ps. Ixxviii. 3, 4. 2 De Inc. 1 2. 

ix. The Church. 369 

purified from sin that he might be worthy to take part in the 
national service ; the events of the nation's history were 
celebrated in religious hymns ; the capital of the nation 
became the one and only recognised centre for the highest 

But Judaism adds to these principles a further principle of 
its own. It claims that such privileges as were granted to it, 
were not granted to it for its own sake, but that it might be 
a source of blessing to all nations : it assumes that they are on 
a lower religious level than itself; that instead of each nation 
progressing equally along the line of religious life, truth, and 
worship, other nations have fallen backward and the Jew has 
been chosen out for a special privilege. It is the principle 
that God works by ' limitation,' by apparent ' exclusiveness,' 
by that which is in its essence ' sacerdotalism ' ; the principle 
that God does not give His gifts equally to all, but specially 
to a few, that they may use them for the good of the whole. 
This principle seems at first sight to offend some modern 
abstract ideas of justice and equality ; but the moment we 
examine the facts of life, we find it prevailing universally. 
Each nation has its peculiar gift: the Greek makes his 
parallel claim to be specially gifted with the love of knowledge 
and the power of artistic expression; the Roman with the 
power of rule and the belief in law. Or, again, within 
a single nation, it is the artist who enables us to see the 
beauty of a face or a landscape which had escaped us before : 

Art was given for that, 
God uses us to help each other so, 
Lending our minds out. 

It is the poet who interprets our inner nature or the magic of 
the external world, and becomes 

A priest to us all 

Of the wonder and bloom of the world, 
Which we see with his eyes and are glad : 
he sings 

Till the world is wrought 
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not 1 . 

And this principle does not stop short of religious influences 

1 Browning, Fra Lippo Lippi : M. Arnold, The Youth of Nature : Shelley, 
The Skylark. 


37 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Conscience is itself a witness to it, as it implies that all parts 
of our nature are not sufficient guides to themselves, but that 
God has gifted one special faculty with power to control the rest. 
' Men of character,' it has been said, ' are the conscience of the 
society to which they belong.' In the Jewish nation itself, 
the prophets were the circle of Jehovah's friends ; they knew 
His secrets, they kept alive the ideal of the nation. ' What 
the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world ' was 
the parallel claim of an early apologist 1 . Analogies crowd in, 
then, on every side, to shew how rational is this claim on the 
part of Judaism. 

Revelation only accepts this fact, and adds to it the asser- 
tion that it is no accident but a part of the Divine Purpose. 
It is the result of God's election. The Jewish nation, and 
subsequently the Christian Church, is not only a blessing to 
the rest of the world, but it is conscious that it is a blessing. 
This truth has been revealed to it partly to keep it ever 
mindful of its sense of dependence upon the Giver of all good 
gifts, partly to give it tenacity and courage to cling to a gift 
which it knows to be of inestimable value for all mankind. 
' The election was simply a method of procedure adopted by 
God in His wisdom by which He designed to fit the few for 
blessing the many, one for blessing all V 

It must be from considerations such as these that we 
approach the foundation of the Christian Church and the 
Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ on which it rests. We 
approach it with the expectation that we shall find these 
principles embodied in it, for Christianity sprang directly out 
of Judaism, and so would naturally inherit its principles : and 
to go deeper still, the very essence of the Incarnation lies in 
the consecration of human life and human means. He who 
before had been acting invisibly upon the world as the Word. 
implanting life and light in man, now entered visibly into 
human flesh. All tendencies which made for the fulness of 
life and truth before His coming, all that tended to enlighten, 
elevate, combine men, had been His unknown working : now 

1 Ep. ad Diogn. vi. 

2 Bruce, The Chief End of Revelation, p. 116. 

ix. The Church. 371 

they are known to be His. The Infinite appears in finite 
form ; the spiritual takes the material in which to express 
itself; human media are consecrated to deeper ends, and 
charged with a fuller meaning than before : so that, in 
Hooker's words, ' We cannot now conceive how God should, 
without man, exercise Divine power or receive the glory of 
Divine praise 1 .' ' What you do now even after the flesh, that 
is spiritual ' is the bold paradox of S. Ignatius ; and he adds 
the reason, 'for you do all in Christ Jesus 2 .' Thus 

In this twofold sphere, the twofold man 
Holds firmly to the natural, to reach 

The spiritual beyond it 

The whole temporal show related royally 
And built up to eterne significance 
Through the open arms of God 3 . 

The Incarnation, then, takes up all the three principles of 
which we have spoken : but, from the very finality which it 
claims for itself, it puts a mark of finality upon each of them, 
and so, in this respect, marks off the application of them in 
the Christian Church from all other applications of the same 
principles. The principle of co-operation for spiritual life is 
taken up ; the Jewish nation is expanded into an universal 
brotherhood ; this includes all men, without any distinction 
of race ; it includes the quick and the dead ; it aims at the 
highest spiritual perfection. It is final in this sense, that 
nothing can be wider in extent or deeper in aim ; but it is 
final also in the sense that the life has been manifested. 
Christians do not combine to work up to some unsuspected 
ideal: they combine to draw out and express in their com- 
mon life the perfection that was in Christ. The principle of 
association for the propagation of ideas is taken up, but they 
are truths about God and His relation to human nature : they 
are truths which have been revealed, which have been once 
for all delivered to the saints. Finally, the principle of asso- 
ciation for worship is taken up ; the worship is made as wide 

1 Ecd. Pol. v. 54. Cf. Iren. adv. Haer. 2 Ign. ad Eph. viii. a 8e KO.I Kara 

iii. 20: 'Gloria enim hominis Deus ; adp/ta irpaaaere, ravra irvfVftaTtica. ianv 

operationis vero Dei et omnis sapi- tv 'Irjffov yap yLpiarai -navra irp 

entiae Ejus et virtutis receptaculum 3 Aurora Leigh, v'ii. p. 302. 

B b 2 

372 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

as humanity ; it is to be as spiritual as God ; but it, too, rests 
on final facts, on the facts of creation and redemption: it 
centres round the one complete sacrifice for sin. 

Let us consider each of these points more in detail. 

I. The Church is an organization for the purpose of 
spiritual life ; an universal brotherhood knit together to 
build up each of its members into holiness ; ' the only great 
school of virtue existing.' But if this is so, if it is universal, 
is the principle of ' limitation,' of ' exclusiveness,' gone ? Cer- 
tainly not. It is there, and it is most instructive to notice 
how it arises *. Christ chose a small body of disciples to be 
in close contact with Himself, to share His work, and to 
receive His deeper teaching. This will not surprise us after 
the analogies of the prophets, the poets, the artists of the 
world. The saints too may be few, and God may lend their 
spirits out for the good of others. But, moreover, in the 
first formation of the Church we are able to watch the 
process of limitation, as historically worked out ; and we see 
that it arises not from any narrowness, any grudging of 
His blessings, on the part of Christ, but from the narrow- 
ness, the limitations in man. Man is ' straitened ' not in 
God, not in Christ, but in his own affections. God willed 
all men to be saved : Christ went about doing good and 
calling all to a change of heart, to a share in the king- 
dom of Heaven : but such a call made demands upon His 
hearers ; it required that they should give up old prejudices 
about the Messianic kingdom, that they should be willing to 
leave father and mother and houses and lands for the truth's 
sake, that they should lay aside all the things that defile a 
man, that they should aim at being perfect, that they should 
not only hear but understand the word, that they should 
trust Him even when His sayings were hard. And these 
demands produced the limitations. The Pharisees preferred 
the glory of men to the glory which came from God ; the 
masses in Galilee cared only for the bread that perisheth; 
many of the disciples turned back ; and so He could not 
commit Himself unto them, because He knew what was in 

1 Cp. H. S. Holland, Creed and Character, Sermons III VIII. 

ix. The Church. 373 

man. Not to them, not to any chance person, but to the 
Twelve, to those who had stood these tests, to those who had, 
in spite of all perplexity, seen in Him the Son of the Living 
God, to them He could commit Himself, they could share His 
secrets ; they could be taught clearly the certainty and the 
meaning of His coming death, for they had begun to learn 
what self-sacrifice meant ; they could do His work and or- 
ganize His Church ; they could bind and loose in His Name ; 
they could represent Him when He was gone. These are the 
elect ; they who had the will to listen to the call l ; they who 
were ' magnanimous to correspond with heaven ' ; to them He 
gave at Pentecost the full conscious gift of the Holy Spirit, 
and so at last formed them into the Church, the Church which 
was to continue His work, which was to convey His grace, 
which was to go into the whole world, holding this life as a 
treasure for the sake of the whole world, praying and giving 
thanks for all men, because the unity of God and the unity of 
the mediation of Christ inspires them with hope that all may 
be one in Him 2 . 

The day of Pentecost was thus the birthday of the Church. 
Before there were followers of the Lord ; now there was the 
Church : and this as the result of a new act, for which all that 
preceded had been but preparation : now the Church was born 
in becoming the possessor of a common corporate life. The 
Spirit was given to the whole body of Christians together : it 
was not given to an individual here and there in such a way 
that such Spirit-bearing individuals could then come together 
and form a Church. It was given corporately, so that they 
who received the Spirit realized at once a unity which pre- 
ceded any individual action of their own. So the Church 
has gone forth offering its message freely to all ; in Christ 
Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile ; the message is given 

f O O 

openly, ' without any veil,' to all ; all are accepted who will 
submit themselves to Baptism, i. e. all who recognise the ele- 
ment of evil and of weakness in their own life, who are willing 
to die to it and receive fresh life and strength from the Risen 

1 H.O.VTQJV TOivvv avOpwirow Kerch-rjutvcav, ol vna/coiffat &ov\r]6evT(s, K\.r]rol uvofta- 
, Clem. Alex. Strom. I. xviii. 89. 2 Cp. i Tim. ii. 1-6. 

374 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

Lord, and to submit their life to His discipline. That is the 
Church as presented to us in the New Testament. Metaphor 
after metaphor is lavished upon it by our Lord and by S. Paul 
in order to make clear the conception of it. He is the Vine. 
His disciples are the branches ; they draw all their life from 
Him : apart from Him they can do nothing ; if in union with 
Him, they bear fruit. The Church is a household, a scene of 
active work, of ' skilled and trained activity ' : each member 
with his own work, some as mere members of the household, 
others as rulers set over the household to give them meat in 
due season, each with talents to be used faithfully for the 
Master. It is a family, in which ' all ye are brethren,' laying 
obligations of love between brother and brother, calling out 
self-sacrifice for the good of others, deepening in each the 
sense of the value of the lives of others. It is the Body of 
Christ, that which grows stronger and stronger, that which 
draws its life from the Head and must hold to Him, that in 
which Christian is linked to Christian in sympathy and com- 
plete interdependence, that without which the Head would be 
incomplete, the necessary organ for completing Christ's work 
on earth, that which the Spirit takes as its channel for mani- 
festing to the world the very ' life of God.' It is God's 
Temple ; visible, made up of parts, which are fitted in to one 
another in symmetry ; beautiful with a spiritual beauty ; for 
there a li ving God is present ; there He speaks to His own ; 
there they offer to Him a rational service J . It is the Bride of 
Christ, the dearest object of Christ's love, which gives herself 
to Him for His service, which for His sake keeps herself 
pure in life and doctrine ; which receives from Him all the 
treasures of His love, so that as He had received the 
fulness of God, ' the aggregate of the Divine attributes, 
virtues, and energies ' from the Father, the Church receives 
all this from Him and manifests it forth to the world of 
men and of angels. 

But this picture, it will be urged, is only a prophecy of the 
future ; the evidence of S. Paul's Epistles will also shew us 

1 For the whole of this last paragraph cf. H. S. Holland, On behalf of Belief , 
Sermons VI and VII. 

ix. The Church. 375 

a very different scene in real life, a body with tendencies to 
divisions, to selfishness, to sin. This is quite true, but the 
ideal is never thought of as something different from the real ; 
the ideal is not simply in heaven nor the real simply on 
earth ; the real is the ideal, though not yet completely de- 
veloped ; the ideal is the actual basis of the real as much as 
the goal to which the real is tending. The members of the 
Church have been consecrated ; they are holy ; they are 
'unleavened'; they have put on Christ; they have by their 
self-committal to Him received a righteousness which they 
can work out into perfection. Again, they are brothers ; 
they have been made children of God by adoption : as they 
have realized the sense of sonship, they realize also the close- 
ness of the tie between themselves and the other sons, their 
common sympathies, hopes and aims. True, they are not yet 
perfect either in holiness or in love : the very purpose of the 
Church is to make them perfect. It takes the individual at 
his birth, it incorporates him into its own life, it watches over 
him from beginning to end, it feeds him with spiritual food, 
it disciplines him by spiritual laws, it blesses him at all the 
chief moments of life, it takes him away from his own isola- 
tion, trains him in social aims and social duties by social sacra- 
ments, finaEy, gives him back to God with its benediction. 

Such a conception of the Church as a nursery, a school, a 
home, implies of necessity that it should be visible, and that 
it should be one. It is a visible body, because it has in some 
sense to represent the Incarnate Lord. In the Incarnation 
spirit took material form and expressed itself thereby ; in the 
risen Lord and it is the risen Lord who gives the Spirit to 
the Church there was still a spiritual body. This is not to 
deny the invisible reality of spiritual unity which underlies 
the external visible unity. It is only to say that complete- 
ness means both. In the language of S. Ignatius, as Christ 
Jesus was at once material and spiritual, so, the unity of the 
Church should be at once material and spiritual l . 

The idea of an invisible Church to express the body of true 

1 S. Ignatius, ad Eph. vii. els larpos fffri, aaptciKos Kal irvtviMTticbs, as compared 
with ad Magn. xiii. iva tvcazis y aapKiKrj re KCU irvtvuajiicrj. 

376 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

believers, who alone are the Church, to whatever community 
they belong, so that the visible Church becomes an unimportant 
thing, is an idea entirely at variance with Scripture and all 
pre-reformation teaching. The phrase is first found in almost 
contemporary writings of Luther and of Zwingli ; it is akin 
to the teaching of Hus and of Wiclif ; and, no doubt, there are 
thoughts and phrases in earlier writers that are more or less 
akin to it. From the first there was obviously a distinction 
between the true and untrue Christian, between the spiritual 
and the fleshly, between the vessels to honour and the vessels 
to dishonour, and the first of these classes, those who persevere 
to the end, whom man cannot know and God only knows, 
those who, if thought of in the light of God's eternal pur- 
poses, are the predestined, these were treated and spoken of 
as ' the Church properly so called,' ' the true body of Christ.' 
Christians ' who do the will of the Father will belong to the 
first Church, the spiritual Church founded before the sun and 
moon.' Those who have li ved in perfect righteousness accord- 
ing to the Gospel ' will rest in the holy hill of God, in the 
highest Church, in which are gathered the philosophers of 
God 1 .' 

Again, the Church on earth is regarded as ' a copy of the 
Church in heaven in which God's will is done ' : but in each 
case there is no contrast between the visible and the invisible 
Church. The invisible Church is in these cases either the 
ideal of the visible ; or that part of the visible organized 
Church which has remained true to its aims. So too with 
regard to those who are not conscious believers ; the possibility 
of their salvation, in a qualified way, is heartily recognised, 
but the confusion is not made of calling them members of 
the Church. 

The fatal danger is when the belief in the invisible 
Church is used to discredit the visible Church and the im- 
portance of belonging to it. It is scarcely too much to 
say, that all stress laid upon the invisible Church tends to 

1 Pseudo-Clem. Rom. Ep. ii. 14; Begriff der chrisilichen Kirche (Erlangen, 
Clem. Alex. Str. vi. 14; iv. 8. For these 1885), cap. i; and Gore, Church and tha 
and other illustrations cf. Seeberg, Der Ministry, ed. i. pp. 19, 28, 136. 

ix. The Church. 377 

lower the demands of holiness and brotherhood. It is a 
visible Church, and such a Church as can attract outsiders, 
which calls out the fruits of faith into active energy ; it is a 
visible Church such as can combine Christians in active work, 
which tests brotherhood, which rubs away idiosyncrasy, which 
destroys vanity and jealousy, which restrains personal ambi- 
tion, which trains in the power of common work, which, as 
our own powers fail, or are proved inadequate, for some task 
on which our heart had been set, still fills us with hope that 
God will work through others that which it is clear He will 
not work through us. It is a visible Church alone which is 
' the home of the lonely.' Encompassed as we are now from 
our birth by Christian friends and associations, we tend to 
forget how much we depend on the spiritual help and sym- 
pathy of others. The greatness of our blessings blinds us to 
their presence, and we seem to stand in our own strength 
while we are leaning upon others. The relation of the soul 
to God is a tender thing ; personal religion, which seems so 
strong, while in a Christian atmosphere, tends to grow 
weak, to totter, to fall, as we stand alone in some distant 
country, amid low moral standards and heathen faiths. Such 
solitude does indeed often, in those who are strong, deepen, in 
a marvellous way, the invisible communion with God and the 
ties that knit us with the absent ; but the result is often fatal 
to the weak. It throws both strong and weak alike into 
closer sympathy with those who share a common faith. It is 
a visible Church which supplies this sympathy, which gives 
the assurance that each soul, as it is drawn to God, shall not 
stand alone ; but that it shall find around it strengthening 
hands and sympathetic hearts, which shall train it till, as in 
the quiet confidence of a home, it shall blossom into the full 
Christian life. 

The principle of the unity of the Church is very similar. 
That, again, is primarily and essentially a spiritual unity. 
The ultimate source is, according to the Lord's own teaching, 
the unity of the Godhead : ' that they may be one, even as we 
are one.' The effect of the outpouring of the Spirit is to 
make the multitude of them that believed ' of one heart and 

378 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

one soul.' Baptism becomes the source of unity, ' In one 
Spirit were we all baptized into one body : ' the ' one bread ' 
becomes the security of union. ' We who are many are one 
bread, one body, for we all partake of the one bread.' More 
fully still is the unity drawn out in the Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians. ' There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are 
called in one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one 
baptism, one God and Father of all.' The unity starts with 
being spiritual ; it is the power of the One God drawing men 
together by His action upon their spirits ; uniting them in the 
service of one Lord who has redeemed them, but it issues in 
'one body.' Nothing can be stronger than the assertion of 
such unity. But in what does this unity lie, and what is to 
be the safeguard of it? No one answer is possible to this 
question. Clearly, one part of the answer is, a unity of 
spiritual aim, ' one hope of your calling : ' another answer is, 
a common basis of belief, common trust in the same Lord, 
' one faith ; ' a further answer is, common social sacraments, 
' one baptism,' ' one bread.' All these lie on the face of these 
passages of S. Paul. Are we to add to them ' a common 
government,' ' an apostolical succession ? ' Was this of the 
essence or a late addition, a result of subsequent confederation 
intended to guarantee the permanence of dogma ? No doubt, 
the circumstances of subsequent history moulded the exact 
form of the ministry, and emphasized the importance of ex- 
ternal organization under particular circumstances ; but this 
is no less true of the other points of unity ; the unity of 
spiritual life was worked out in one way in the times of 
public discipline and penance, in another way when these fell 
into disuse : the unity of faith was brought into prominence in 
the times of the formulating of the Creeds. So the unity of 
external organization was emphasized when it was threatened 
by the Gnostic, Novatian, and Donatist controversies. But 
the germ of it is there from the first, and it was no later 
addition. The spiritual unity derived from the Lord is 
imparted through Sacraments ; but this at once links the 
inward life and spiritual unity with some form of ex- 
ternal organization. And so the writer of the Epistle 

ix. The Church. 379 

to the Ephesians after his great description of Christian unity, 
goes on at once to speak of the ministry. The apostles, 
prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, these are special gifts 
of the ascended Lord to the Church ; and they are given for 
the very purpose of securing unity, ' for the perfecting of the 
saints unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of 
the body of Christ, till we all attain unto the unity of the 
faith.' No less significantly, when S. Paul is applying to the 
Church the metaphor of the body and its members in order 
to emphasize the unity of the whole, does he rank apostles, 
prophets, teachers, as the most important members of the 
body l . 

The history of the early Church, so far as it can be traced, 
points the same way. The Lord appointed His body of 
twelve : He gave them the power to bind and to loose, the 
power to exercise discipline over offending members of the 
Church. At first, the Christian Church is a purely Jewish 
body ; it continues in the Apostles' fellowship as well as doc- 
trine ; they distribute its alms ; they punish unworthy mem- 
bers ; they arrange its differences ; they appoint subordinate 
officers ; they ratify their actions, and sanction the admis- 
sion of Samaritans and proselytes to the Church ; but the 
various members throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, are 
embraced in the single conception of one Church 2 . Then 
under the guidance of Paul and Barnabas, the Gentiles are 
brought in and formed into churches ; the danger to unity 
becomes acute. According to the Acts of the Apostles, it is 
surmounted by reference to the Church at Jerusalem; the 
Apostles and Elders there decide the question, and the Gentile 
Churches are thus kept in communion with it. S. Paul's 
letters, with all the difficulty there is of reconciling every detail 
with the historian's account, present us with essentially the 
same picture. In dealing with his own Churches, he claims 
absolute right, as apostle, to hand on and lay down traditions, 
to punish, to forgive, to govern: he leaves some class of 
ministers in every Church under his guidance ; each Church 

1 I Cor. xii. 28. 0X779 rfjs 'lovScu'as teal FaXiXams ai 2a- 

2 Cp. Acts ix. 31 ^ fKK\ijata ica.0' fiapdas. 

380 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

is to administer discipline over unworthy members. But the 
Churches cannot act independently : the Church at Corinth is 
not to act as though it were the fountain head of Christianity, 
or the only Gentile Church ; it is to remember the customs in 
other Churches. Further than this, above ' all the Churches,' 
appears already as one body ' the Church,' in which God has 
set apostles * ; within it there are separate spheres of work, 
Paul and Barnabas are to go to the Gentiles, the leading 
Jewish apostles to the Jews ; S. Paul will not intrude beyond 
the province assigned to him ; he makes his Gentile Churches 
to contribute to the needs of the Jewish Church, and realize 
the debt which they owe to them. Any divisions in a local 
Church cannot be tolerated, as being inconsistent with the 
unity of Christ, with His cross, and with the significance of 
baptism. Peter stands condemned when he wishes to separate 
himself and so causes division between Jew and Gentile. 

The importance attached to external organization is surely 
implied in all of this, and the circumstances of the second 
century forced out into clearness what was so implied. 
Gnosticism, Montanism, Novatianism all tended to found new 
bodies, which claimed to be the true Church. How was the 
individual Christian to test their claims ? It was in the face 
of this question that Church writers, notably S. Cyprian and 
S. Irenaeus, emphasized the importance of historical continuity 
in the Church as secured by the apostolical succession of the 
episcopate. The unity of the Church came primarily, they 
urged, from God, from heaven, from the Father ; it was secured 
by the foundation of the Church upon the Apostles ; the 
bishops have succeeded to the Apostles and so become the 
guardians of the unity of the Church. As soon then as we 
find the Christian episcopate universally organized, we find it 
treated as an institution received from the Apostles and as 
carrying with it the principle of historic continuity. So it 
has remained ever since, side by side with the other safeguards 
of unity, the sacraments and the common faith. The Roman 
Church has added to it what seemed a further safeguard of 


1 i Cor. xii. 28, xv. 9 ; Gal. i. 13 ; Phil. iii. 6 ; Eph. i. 22, iii. 10, 21 ; Col. i. 
1 8, 24 ; i Tim. iii. 15. 

ix. The Church. 381 

unity, the test of communion with itself ; but this was a later 
claim, a claim which was persistently resented, and which was 
urged with disastrous results. The Reformed Churches of the 
Continent, in their protest against that additional test, have 
rejected the whole principle of historic continuity ; they have 
remained satisfied with the bond of a common faith and of 
common sacraments: but the result can scarcely be said to 
be as yet a securer unity. Even an Unitarian historian 
recognises heartily that the characteristic of the Church in 
England is this continuity. ' There is no point,' urges Mr. 
Beard 1 , 'at which it can be said, here the old Church ends, 
here the new begins. . . . The retention of the Episcopate by 
the English Reformers at once helped to preserve this con- 
tinuity and marked it in the distinctest way. ... It is an 
obvious historical fact that Parker was the successor of 
Augustine, just as clearly as Lanfranc and Becket.' 

This, then, is what the Church claims to be as the home of 
grace, the channel of spiritual life. It claims to be a body of 
living persons who have given themselves up to the call of 
Christ to carry on His work in the world ; a body which was 
organized by Himself thus far that the Apostles were put in 
sole authority over it ; a body which received the Spirit to 
dwell within it at Pentecost ; a body which propagated itself 
by spiritual birth ; a body in which the ministerial power 
was handed on by the Apostles to their successors, which has 
remained so organized till the present day, and has moved on 
through the world, sometimes allied with, sometimes in sepa- 
ration from the State, always independent of it ; a body which 
lays on each of its members the duty of holiness, and the 
obligation of love, and trains them in both. 

But two objections arise here, which must be dealt with 
shortly. It is urged first, this is an unworthy limitation : we 
ought to love all men ; to treat all men as brothers ; why 
limit this love, this feeling of brotherhood to the baptized, to 
the Church 1 True, we ought to love and honour all men, to 
do good to all men. The love of the Christian, like the love 
of Christ, knows no limits ; but the limitations are in man 

1 Hibbert Lectures, 1883, p. 311. 

382 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

himself. All human nature is not lovable: all men are not 
love-worthy. Love must, at least, mean a different thing ; 
it must weaken its connotation if applied to all men ; there 
may be pity, there may be faith, there may be a prophetic 
anticipating love for the sinner and the criminal, as we recall 
their origin and forecast the possibilities of their future ; but 
love in the highest sense, love that delights in and admires its 
object, love that is sure of a response, the sense of brotherhood 
which knows that it can trust a brother these are not pos- 
sible with the wanton, the selfish, the hypocrite. Though man 
has social instincts which draw him into co-operation with 
others ; he has also tendencies to selfishness and impurity 
which work against the spirit of brotherhood and make it 
impossible. Not till we have some security that the man's 
real self is on the side of unselfishness, can we trust him ; and 
baptism with its gifts of grace, baptism with its death to the 
selfish nature, baptism with its profession of allegiance to the 
leadership of Christ, this, at least, gives us some security. 
Even Comte, with his longing for brotherhood, tells us that in 
forming our conception of humanity we must not take in all 
men, but those only who are really assimilable, in virtue of a 
real co-operation towards the common existence, and Mr. 
Cotter Morison would eliminate and suppress those who have 
no altruistic affection. We limit, then, only so far as seems 
necessary to gain reality ; we train men in the narrower circle 
of brotherhood, that they may become enthusiasts for it, and go 
forth as missionaries to raise others to their own level. As for 
those who lie outside Christianity, the Church, like our Lord 
Himself in the parable of the sheep and the goats, like S. Paul 
in his anticipation of the judgment day, recognises all the good 
there is in them ; like Justin Martyr and many of the early 
Fathers, it traces in them the work of the Divine Word ; and 
yet none the less did these writers claim and does the Church 
still claim for itself the conscious gift of spiritual life, in a 
sense higher than anything that lies outside itself. 

But many, who would follow thus far, would draw another 
line, and would include within the Church all the baptized, 
whether professing churchmen or not. Once more, so far as 

ix. The Chiirch. 383 

we draw any distinction within the limits of the baptized, it 
is for the sake of reality. We recognise that every atom of 
their faith is genuine, that so far as they have one Lord, one 
faith, one baptism, they are true members of the Church ; that 
so far as they have banded themselves together into a society, 
they have something akin to the reality of the Church, and 
gain some of its social blessings. But then it is they who have 
banded themselves together into a society : and that means 
they have done it at their own risk. We rest upon the 
validity of our sacraments, because they were founded by 
the Lord Himself, because they have His special promises, 
because they have been handed down in regular and valid 
channels to us. Have they equal security that their sacra- 
ments are valid? Again, we must hold that schism means 
something of evil : that it causes weakness : that it thus 
prevents the full work of brotherhood, of knitting Christian 
with Christian in common worship: that so it prevents 
the complete witness of the Church in the world ; that in so 
far as such Christians are schismatic, they are untrue and 
harmful members of the Church. The full complete claim of 
the Church is that it is a body visibly meeting together in a 
common life, and forming by historical continuity a part of 
the actual body founded by our Lord Himself. It would be 
unreal to apply this conception of a complete historic brother- 
hood to those who have separated themselves from the Church's 
worship, and whose boast is that they were founded by Wesley, 
or Luther, or Calvin. A Church so founded is not historically 
founded by Christ. It may have been founded to carry on 
the work of Christ, it may have been founded in imitation of 
Him, and with the sincerest loyalty to His person, but it 
cannot be said to have been founded by Him. Even if cir- 
cumstances have justified it, it is at any rate not the ideal ; 
and whatever confessions the historic Church may have to 
make of its own shortcomings, it still must witness to the 
ideal of a visible unity and historical continuity. Amid the 
divisions of Christendom, and in face of her own shortcomings, 
the Church of England does not claim to be the full complete 
representation of the Church of Christ. She is only one 

384 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

national expression of the Catholic Church : she feels that 
' it is safer for us to widen the pale of the kingdom of God, 
than to deny the fruits of the Spirit 1 ; ' she has ever on her 
lips the prayer, ' Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the 
offences of our forefathers, neither take vengeance of our sins,' 
and yet she must make her claim boldly and fearlessly to 
have retained the true ideal of the Church ; to be loyal to the 
essential principle that her life comes historically from Christ 
and not from man. 

II. But the Church is the school of truth as well as the 
school of virtue. Its ministers form a priesthood of truth as 
well as a priesthood of sacrifice. Its priests' lips have ' to 
keep knowledge.' Christianity is, as the School of Alexandria 
loved to represent it, a Divine philosophy, and the Church its 

This conception of the Church starts from our Lord's own 
words. His Apostles are to be as scribes instructed unto the 
kingdom of Heaven ; they are to have the scribes' power to 
decide what is and what is not binding in the kingdom ; the 
Spirit is to lead them into all truth ; they are to make dis- 
ciples of all the nations, ' teaching them to observe all things 
whatsoever I commanded you.' The function of the Church 
then with regard to truth is primarily to bear witness to that 
which has been revealed. It does not primarily reveal, it tells 
of the truths which have been embodied in the historic life 
of Jesus Christ or explained in His teaching. ' One is its 
teacher ; One is its master, even the Christ.' It holds a ' faith 
once delivered to the saints.' Hence, from the first, there grew 
up some quasi-authoritative formula, in which we can see the 
germ of the later Creeds, which each Christian Missionary 
would teach to his converts. S. Paul himself received from 
others and handed on to the Corinthians, as his first message 
to them, some such half-stereotyped Creed, narrating the 
central facts of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord ; his 
teaching was as a mould which shaped the lives of the 
converts as they were poured, like so much molten metal, 
into it. It was authoritative, not even an angel from 

1 Bp. Forbes, Explanation of the Nicene Creed, p. 290. 

ix. The Church. 385 

heaven could preach another gospel. As time went on 
and false teaching spread, this side of the Church's work 
is emphasized more and more. The Church is to be the 
pillar and ground-work of the truth. Timothy and Titus 
are to hold fast the deposit, to prevent false teaching, to 
secure wholesomeness of doctrine no less than sobriety of life. 
The contests of the next centuries bring out this idea of 
witness into clearer prominence, and the Episcopate, as it had 
been the guarantee of unity, becomes now the guarantee of 
truth. Thus, S. Ignatius is face to face with Docetic and 
Gnostic teaching ; with him the bishops are ' in the mind of 
Jesus Christ ; ' they are to be treated ' as the Lord ; ' to avoid 
heresy, it is necessary to avoid ' separation from the God of Jesus 
Christ, from the Bishop and the ordinances of the Apostles ; ' 
the one bishop is ranked with the one Eucharist, the one flesh of 
Jesus Christ, the one cup, the one altar, as the source of unity ; 
submission to the Bishop and the Presbyters is a means towards 
holiness, towards spiritual strength and spiritual joy 1 . These 
are incidental expressions in letters written at a moment of 
spiritual excitement : but the same appeal reappears in calmer 
controversial treatises. S. Irenaeus argues against Gnosticism 
on exactly the same grounds. Truth is essentially a thing 
received ; it was received by the Apostles from Christ. He 
was the truth Himself; He revealed it to His Apostles ; they 
embodied it in their writings and handed it on to the Bishops 
and Presbyters who succeeded them ; hence the test of truth is 
to be sought in Holy Scripture and in the teaching of those 
Churches which were founded directly by the Apostles 2 . 
With equal strength Tertullian urges that the truth was 
received by the churches from the Apostles, by the Apostles 
from Christ, by Christ from God ; it is therefore independent 
of individuals : it must be sought for in Holy Scripture, but 
as the canon of that is not fixed, and its interpretation is at 
times doubtful, it must be supplemented by the evidence of 
the apostolic Churches ; and he challenges the heretics to pro- 

1 ad Eph. ii. iii. vi. xx ; ad Trail. 2 Irenaeus, adv. Haer., cp. esp. 1. 10, 

vii. xiii ; ad Phil iv. vii; ad Smyrn. II. 9, III. i, 2, 3, 5, 12, 24. 
viii. ix. 

C C 

386 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

duce the origin of their churches and shew that the series of 
bishops runs back to some Apostle or apostolic man 1 . 

The Church is thus primarily a witness : the strength of its 
authority lies in the many sides from which the witness comes ; 
but the exigencies of controversy, and indeed of thought even 
apart from controversy, rendered necessary another function in 
respect to truth. The Church was compelled to formulate, to 
express its witness in relation to the intellectual difficulties 
of the time. Christianity is indeed essentially a matter not 
of the intellect, but of the will, a personal relation of trust 
in a personal God. Its first instinct is, as the first instinct 
of friendship would be, to resent intellectual analysis and 
dogmatic definition. But as the need of telling others about 
a friend, or defending him against slander, would compel us to 
analyse his qualities and define his attractiveness ; so it was 
with the Church's relation to the Lord. It bore witness to 
the impression which His life had made upon His followers 
that He was Divine; it bore witness to the facts of the life 
that attested it and to His own statements. But the claim 
was denied ; it needed justifying ; it needed to be shewn to 
be consistent with other truths, such as the unity of God, and 
the reality of His own human nature, and so definition was 
forced upon the Church. The germ of such definitions is 
found in the New Testament ; the deeper Christological teach- 
ing of the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, and 
of the prologue of S. John are instances of such intellectual 
analysis and formulation, and were evidently written in the 
face of controversy. The technical decisions of the great 
councils of the fourth and fifth centuries and their expression 
in the Nicene and 'Athanasian' Creeds are the outcome 
of the same tendency. Yet even in them, the Church acts, 
in a sense, as a witness ; the Scriptures are appealed to as 
the ultimate authority ; the Creed is the summary of its 
chief doctrines : the one aim is to secure and express the truth 
witnessed to by churches throughout the world, to eliminate 
novelty and caprice ; the new definitions are accepted, because 
they alone are felt to express the instinct of the Church's 
1 Praescript. adv. Haereticos ; cp. esp. 3, 6, 15-21. 

ix. The Church. 387 

worship. By this time the canon of Holy Scripture was 
fixed. It becomes thenceforth an undying fountain of life 
from which the water of pure doctrine can be drawn. Tradi- 
tion and development can always be checked by that. 

In the truths then which the Church teaches we may dis- 
tinguish two classes. First, there are the central truths to 
which it bears absolute witness ; such as the Fatherhood of 
God, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Redemption of 
all mankind, the origin and purpose of human life. These it 
teaches authoritatively. Its conduct is exactly analogous to 
that of a parent teaching the moral law to his children ; teach- 
ing the commandments authoritatively at first, till the child 
can be educated to understand the reason of them. So the 
Church says to her children, or to those who are seeking after 
truth ' there is an absolute truth in religion as well as in 
morality : we have tested it ; generations of the saints have 
found it true. It is a truth independent of individual 
teachers ; independent of the shifting moods of opinion at any 
particular period ; and you must accept it on our authority 
first. Further, these are truths which affect life, therefore they 
cannot be apprehended merely by the intellect. You must 
commit yourself to them ; act upon them ; there is a time 
when the seeker after truth sees where it lies ; then it must 
cease to be an open question. " You must seek till you find, 
but when you have once found truth, you must commit your- 
self to it 1 ." You must believe that you may understand ; but 
it is that you may understand.' The dogma is authoritatively 
taught, that the individual may be kept safe from mere indivi- 
dual caprice and fancifulness, but also that he himself may 
come to a rational understanding of his belief. No doubt the 
truth is so wide that to the end of our lives we shall still feel 
the need of guidance and of teaching. ' As long as we live,' 
said Calvin, ' our weakness will not allow us to be discharged 
from school.' Like S. Ignatius on his way to martyrdom, the 
Christian may feel at his dying day, ' Now I begin to be a 
disciple ;' but the aim of the Church is to make each member 

1 Tertullian. Praescr. g : ' Quaerendum est donee invenias, et credendum 
ubi inveneris.' 

C C 2 

388 The Religion of the Incarnation. 

have a rational hold upon his faith. When we are young 
we accept a doctrine because the Church teaches it to 
us ; when we are grown up, we love the Church because it 
taught us the doctrine. ' The Churchman never surrenders 
his individual responsibility. But he may and must sur- 
render some portion at least of his independence, and he 
benefits greatly by the surrender V ' Submission to the 
authority of the Church is the merging of our mere indivi- 
dualism in the whole historic life of the great Christian 
brotherhood ; it is making ourselves at one with the one 
religion in its most permanent and least merely local form. It 
is surrendering our individuality only to empty it of its 
narrowness V 

Secondly, there are other truths, which are rather deductions 
from these central points or statements of them in accordance 
with the needs of the age ; such as the mode of the relation of 
the Divine and human natures in Christ, of free-will to pre- 
destination, or the method of the Atonement, or the nature of 
the Inspiration of Holy Scripture. If, in any case, a point of 
this kind has consciously come before the whole Church and 
been reasoned out and been decided upon, such a decision 
raises it into the higher class of truths, which are taught 
authoritatively; but if this is not so, the matter remains 
an open question. It remains a question for the theologians ; 
it is not imposed on individual Christians ; though it may at 
any time become ripe for decision. The very fixity of the 
great central doctrines allows the Church to give a remark- 
able freedom to individual opinion on all other points. 
Practically, how much wider is the summary of the rule 
of faith as given in Irenaeus (III. 4), or Tertullian (Praescr. 
13), or Origen (De Principiis), or in the Apostles' or Nicene 
Creed, than the tests of orthodoxy that would be imposed 
in a modern religious, or scientific circle ! S. Vincent 
of Lerins is the great champion of antiquity as the test of truth ; 
yet he who lays it down that ' to declare any new truth to 
Catholic Christians over and above that which they have re- 

1 Hawkins' Sermons on the Church, * Rev. C. Gore, Roman Catholic 

p. 77. Claims, p. 51. 

ix. The Church. 389 

ceived never was allowed, nowhere is allowed, and never will 
be allowed,' also insists on the duty of development, of growth, 
within the true lines of the central truths. ' Is there,' he 
assumes an objector to urge, ' to be no growth within the 
Church ? Nay, let there be growth to the greatest extent ; 
who would be so grudging to man, such an enemy to God, as to 
attempt to prevent it ; but yet let it be such that it be growth, 

not change of the faith As time goes on, it is right 

that the old truths should be elaborated, polished, filed down ; 
it is wrong that they should be changed, maimed or mutilated. 
They should be made clear, have light thrown on them, be 
marked off from each other ; but they must not lose their ful- 
ness, their entirety, their essential character 1 .' So it has 
happened in the course of the Christian history ; doctrines 
like that of the Atonement have been restated afresh to meet 
the needs of the age. So it is happening still ; doctrines like 
that of the method of creation or of the limits of inspiration 
are still before the Church. The Church is slow to decide, to 
formulate : it stands aside, it reiterates its central truths, it says 
that whatever claims to be discovered must ultimately fit in 
with the ce